Eiji Uchida’s new film "Midnight Swan" released its latest trailer on Sept 9, and the internet has rapidly lit up with passionate discussions about not only the movie but the trailer itself. The cinematic trailer, clocking in at well over 15 minutes and billed as “the world’s longest”, has plenty of room with which to paint the story in rich detail and introduce the two leading ladies, as well as the actor and actress portraying them.
The movie’s story follows Nagisa, played by former SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi. Initially from Hiroshima, Nagisa now lives in Shinjuku in Tokyo and has transitioned to living as a woman…but her day-to-day life is shaken up when a distant relative, neglected teenager Ichika, comes to stay with her.
“I’m not taking you in because I like you. I hate kids,” she says curtly to Ichika when they meet. After Ichika offers a photograph, presumably of Nagisa before she transitioned, Nagisa tears it up and throws it on the ground. “Mention the stuff that happened back out in the country and you’re dead.”
The shots that follow show Ichika getting used to life in Nagisa’s apartment, being introduced to her friends — many of whom are other trans women — and learning her way around the neighborhood. When she happens upon a dance studio, Ichika is instantly captivated…and despite rocky relations with Nagisa both at home and when she brings her to meet her teachers, Ichika finds the courage to borrow the older woman’s tutu and practice some dance steps at the apartment.
▼ Ichika meets Nagisa’s friends.
The trailer guides us through the story as the two main characters become close — Nagisa convinces Ichika to eat her vegetables by dousing them in dressing, and Ichika cleans the apartment despite never being asked. The whole time, Ichika is getting more and more serious about dancing, and in one sentimental scene she even tries to teach Nagisa a few dance steps.
Nagisa, for her part, is surprised by how pleased she is when the one of the characters erroneously refers to her as Ichika’s mother. Meanwhile, Ichika throws a chair at another student who insults Nagisa to her face. In what looks to be one of the movie’s pivotal scenes, Nagisa goes to Ichika’s familial home to take her back with her so she can dance at the club’s performance. And at the end, accompanied by the haunting subtitle “I really wanted to be your mother”, we see Ichika and Nagisa hugging…but in this scene, Nagisa’s hair has been cut, and she is no longer wearing her dresses or accessories, instead clad in a man’s shirt and slacks.
The full extent of the plot won’t be clear until the film’s cinematic release on September 25, but SMAP fans and cinema buffs alike are drawn in by the movie’s premise and Kusanagi’s sympathetic performance as its lead.
“It’s been a long time since I wanted to see a film this much.”
“I want to see this film because I, myself, am transgender…but I also just plain want to see it.”
“I cried just from the trailer! I really want to see this. Kusanagi is an incredible actor.”
“I’m a member of the LGBT community too so I really want to see it. It’s like I wasn’t seeing Kusanagi at all, just a woman telling her story.”
The movie seems to follow a gradual but steady trend of increased support for LGBT individuals in Japanese society, and the star power of an established talent like Kusanagi is bound to draw plenty of interested audiences.
Source, images: YouTube/新しい地図
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