Long haul flights are not much fun but on some airlines you do get a choice of movies. Sometimes these are films unlikely to appear in the UK. Someone (alternatively Somebody) was one of the Japanese language films on offer on a flight across the Pacific with Air New Zealand.
Like many contemporary Japanese films, Someone focuses on a specific social issue. Five twenty-something graduates of the high pressure examination system come together to share apartments while they struggle to engage with the graduate recruitment circus. Like much else in Japanese society, the recruitment process is highly organised and the applicants all dress in identical suits as they take psychometric tests and answer questions. It looks horrendous.
Director Miura Daisuke, adapting a novel by Asai Ryo, adds some interesting new elememts to the familiar procedures of job interviews. Some of the five use social media to log their own thoughts as well as commenting on how the whole process is working. They also discuss different psychological and philosophical approaches to this fierce competition. As might be expected, the characters are individuated by their different backgrounds. One young woman has worked abroad and has learned English. One student was once in a rock band and another is interested in theatre and performance. These latter two talents are of questionable value in the recruitment process for the largest companies. The drama graduate is the main narrator of the film and he provides an interesting conclusion to the narrative.
Watching a film on a plane is not the easiest way of following a narrative and I know I missed some of the issues in the film. I’d like to see it again, but I fear this kind of film won’t be bought for the UK. The idea of new graduates living together in this way with potential relationship shifts is not new of course but it would be interesting to compare Someone with TV shows such as This Life in the UK during the 1990s — which offered a narrative in a different economic context.