[ SOCIAL AND PASTORAL BULLETIN No. 141/ Dec. 15 .2007 ]
Film  Welcome to the Quietroom
(2007/Japan/118 minutes)
It has been a long time since I watched a major film. The script is from the popular show author, MATSUO Suzuki, director of the film. The performers are UCHIDA Yuki, KUDO Kankuro, AOI Yu, Ryo, TSUMABUKI Satoshi, OTAKE Shinobu, etc. all glorious faces. But the stage is quite severe. The film location is an isolated ward for women at a mental hospital. At first I hesitated to watch the movie when I read the summary via the Internet, but the review of the film by a psychiatrist mentioned that "the patient's symptoms are well expressed" and I, resolutely, went to watch it. It was not only interesting but also profitable.
The Quiet Room is a room reserved for patients prone to commit suicide. The main actor, a 28-year-old lady, wakes up one day to find herself bound to the Quiet Room. She doesn't remember what could have happened. A man that was living with her visits her and, as a result, she knows that because of an overdose(OD) of drugs she might have been, forcefully, interned. In order to leave the hospital she needs the consent of her companion, but the man has left for a foreign country and she is unable to contact him. From that time on, during 2 weeks, the main actor spends everyday in the hospital room crying and laughing.
Other patient companions are a girl with anorexia and a middle age lady with bulimia, as well as the wife of a medical doctor full of common sense, but also interned because of OD. Besides those, there is a young lady that, as soon as she puts food into her mouth, runs up and down afraid of an over-intake of calories. The little bourgeois girl with anorexia has been already interned for 5 years... All those female patients carrying very serious problems, segregated from society, live 24 hours a day isolated inside the same room of the mental hospital. The words of the patient, "we are so many living together here, but there is no place so solitary," sounded as she was not only talking about the isolated ward of the hospital.
The main actor believes that the OD was just an accident, not the will to commit suicide. At times, she fights with the nurses and patient companions and, at times, she helps everybody and hopes to leave the hospital as soon as possible. Nevertheless, a letter from her mate makes her to confront the true reason of the OD, something she, unconsciously, tried to forget.
My article will give the impression that the film is, surely, heavy. The director leads a theater group and is a 20-year career director. He carries a cynical humor sense and shows enjoyable typical images. His intent to build up a theater group where all actors have a story to tell, no matter the limitations of the stage, is wonderfully accomplished thanks to the brilliant performance of the actors.
On the other hand, most of the observations to the review on the Internet were "it is certainly a heavy film." How to present such a delicate issue like a mental disease? How to value such a film that wraps in laughter a heavy issue and converts it into an entertainment product? Is it only flirting with the problem? People reading the review are usually perplexed.
I, personally, believe that is, by far, better to watch this comical film than not to know about it. And as a member of the task force on mental issues I, certainly, feel the same perplexity of the people mentioned above. Nobody is free from mental problems. Nevertheless, we feel fearful and as much as possible we do not want anything to do with them. Thus, they become taboo issues and unless we experience them we are ignorant of them. Yes, ignorance is something to be afraid off. We become afraid of unknown persons and brush them aside.
Once the main actor realizes the truth of her OD starts the following monologue. "I had an overdose of medicines so that God could make a room for me at his side and that way I came to rest in the Quiet Room. It's nothing else than that. The most troublesome lady landed in the right place she should land and just stays there. Welcome to the Quiet Room."
Where is my place to stay? Who am, really, I? This is a right film for those who want to be honest.

(Shibata Yukinori, Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo)
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