Watch: I Was a Simple Man 2021 123movies, Full Movie Online – A family in Hawai’i faces the imminent death of their eldest as the ghosts of the past haunt the countryside..
Plot: A ghost story set in the pastoral countryside of the north shore of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. Told in four chapters, it tells the story of an elderly man facing the end of his life, visited by the ghosts of his past.
Smart Tags: #1950s
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|6.0/10 Votes: 373|
|88% | RottenTomatoes|
|83/100 | MetaCritic|
|N/A Votes: 4 Popularity: 1.879 | TMDB|
It missed the mark…for me
Film is first and foremost a story-telling medium. Film is at its best when it has straight forward story, strong characters, a linear plot that is easy to follow, and a theme you don’t have to search for. If this had any of these, it went over my head.
When people go into an art gallery, there are those who look at the art on the walls and ponder, and (with honest sincerity, or the need to show pretentious artistic knowledge) say, “Hmmm, very deep. It truly moves me.” Then there are those who look at it, with head askew, and say “Huh?” I am the latter. I don’t know, maybe I am just a landscape and flowers kind of guy. I could never pretend that I understood and liked wine, either. I am more of a coffee guy, with just a little cream and sugar to take the bitter out.
This film seemed slow, drawn out, plodding, and all over the place with unintroduced characters, a story that roamed, and a theme that never penetrated for me. The beautiful cinematography simply could not make for for what it lacked. I had to strain to hear what little dialog there was, I had to strain to see through the persistent darkness, and I had to strain just to understand what it was about. Maybe it was a cultural thing, but when we strive today for a cross-cultural awareness, I felt left behind.
Film as art for art sake has never interested me. I just wondered what the point was, and that question was never answered…for me.
A Beautiful and Haunting Hawaiian Film
I Was a Simple Man is a beautiful, haunting, and rewarding film. I recently saw the film’s premiere at Sundance (virtually) where both of the virtual screenings sold out, which is an indicator of the film’s intrigue. In I Was a Simple Man, director Christopher Makoto Yogi tells the story of a dying man named Masao on the North Shore of Oahu. We realize after some interactions with family that Masao is in no way a simple man and has quite a complicated past. He is a man who fell deeply in love with his wife, but after her death decades ago he chose to have very little involvement with his children, which leaves him mostly isolated on his deathbed. I connected with this storyline deeply, particularly during this pandemic when many of us are confronting death to an extent that we never have before, and also feel incredibly isolated at the same time. Days later the film has me grappling mentally with deaths in my own family and the complex, sometimes flawed personal relationships that greatly complicate our emotions when death comes around.
The story touches on a lot of interesting topics, some that might be familiar to those who have seen Yogi’s previous work. The characters and script are nostalgic for an old Hawaii, one not littered with high rise hotels and apartment buildings, and one that is more green and untouched. Hawaiian nature is deeply linked to the characters and is a focal point visually, aurally, and symbolically. The complicated issue of Hawaiian statehood also creates a layered backdrop to the story that unfolds in the past.
The performances by the actors and cultivated by Yogi are impressive. Constance Wu is probably the draw here, but this is not your typical Wu project. In fact, I was most appreciative of the subtle acting of relative newcomer Steve Iwamoto in the lead role, whose tanned and weathered face expressed so much. I was also impressed by Tim Chiou who played “Adult Masao” during some of the most difficult times for his character.
Regarding the film’s style, I Was a Simple Man would be categorized in the genre of Slow Cinema and is rewarding to those with some patience. Perhaps this pacing will not be for everyone, but I found that it created a meditative and thoughtful tone that felt intentionally and deeply in tune with the Hawaiian environment where “time moves differently,” which is also a reference to the film’s fluid chronology. Though some of the boldest choices come later in the film, most of which I’ll refrain from spoiling, I found the film to be quite dynamic as it builds towards its conclusion. The film’s cinematography is quite gorgeous, showcasing a less familiar side of Hawaii, and featuring frames reminiscent of Ozu. The sound design is incredible, providing the Hawaiian environment life and vibrancy through powerful crescendos and hard cuts. When combined with the haunting score, I found myself quite moved or even rattled emotionally as the drama unfolded. Overall the film is quite the unique and profound sensory experience.
Ultimately, I Was a Simple Man was the perfect antidote to so much binging of generic Netflix series that I think we all are having to resort to these days. I was deeply affected by the film and I’m still thinking about it days later. If you’re looking to watch something refreshing, different, and thoughtful, then I would highly recommend checking out I Was a Simple Man. I think it will go down as one of my favorites of the year.
Original Language en
Runtime 1 hr 40 min (100 min)
Director Christopher Makoto Yogi
Writer Christopher Makoto Yogi
Actors Steve Iwamoto, Constance Wu, Tim Chiou
Country United States
Awards 4 wins & 5 nominations
Production Company N/A
Sound Mix N/A
Aspect Ratio 1.85 : 1
Film Length N/A
Negative Format N/A
Cinematographic Process N/A
Printed Film Format N/A