The People Garden is a feature length narrative film directed by Nadia Litz. This film follows a young woman named Sweetpea (played by Dree Hemingway) who travels to Japan to breakup with her boyfriend, Jamie (played by François Arnaud). Jamie is a famous musician who is shooting a music video in a remote forest in Japan. This location forces Sweetpea to leave behind the comforts of civilization and venture into a dreamlike forest that seems to devour the souls of the people who enter it.

The People Garden

The description of the plot that I have presented here may seem to be a little cryptic and if that is how you have chosen to read it, good. The People Garden is, perhaps, the most cryptic film I have seen in a long time. The entire plot surrounds many mysterious elements that I feel are, for the most part, not really solved when the film is done. This is not the type of story or film that ties into a neat little bow by the end of it. You will have questions. You will feel like you just woke up from a strange dream and in all honesty you will probably feel like you were the one who was lost in a strange forest somewhere in Japan. I’m not sure exactly how to categorize The People Garden. I suppose it would be a mystery but it didn’t stick to any of the typical genre tropes. The film feels pretty creepy at times. There are elements of heavy drama and romance. There is also an element of dystopia to the film.

The People Garden

In many ways The People Garden reminds of Lost In Translation directed by Sofia Coppola. I suppose that many of the similarities I see between these two films stem from the dream-like quality of the plot, location, and character experience. It is perhaps this feeling of complete isolation from normality that is very important to both of these films. This feeling allows the characters to grow and evolve in a way that could not happen if left in their regular circumstances. I also think that how the two films played with language is very interesting. The effect of language is such an interesting concept and certainly added to the feeling of isolation that both of the main characters in these films felt. It is interesting to see how the main characters in these films are forced to trust the locals who speak English. I think this discussion of co-dependence is an interesting way to demonstrate the vulnerability of the characters.

The People Garden

Overall I would say that this film is definitely worth watching. There were elements of it that were very beautiful. The cinematography, though somewhat limited due to the plot, was truly breathtaking at times. I was confused by the story, to say the least, but sometimes I think that’s a good thing. It’s sometimes a relief to step outside of the monotony that can pervade most narrative films. If you’re interested in watching The People Garden you can catch it playing at The Globe Cinema (Calgary) from June 17th, 2016 to June 23rd, 2016.