Suneohair as Jonen in "Abraxas"
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Naoki Katô
"Abraxas" is the story of Jonen, a thirty-something zen monk and family man, who is questioning his role in contemporary Japanese society. Set in a small village outside of Toyko, cultural tradition has pressured Jonen to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a monk. When Jonen is asked to give an inspirational speech to a group of high school students, his suppressed boyhood dream of becoming a performing artist surfaces. Jonen must now confront his conflicting emotions about the life he has now with the life that might have been. "Abraxas" successfully tackles sobering topics such as mental illness, suicide and lack of religious faith. Director Naoki Kato does a tremendous job of balancing these serious topics with sensitivity, comic relief and wit. Abraxas is based on the novel by Akutagawa award-winning zen monk Genyu Sokyu. The film lingers in my memory— even hours after viewing. There is a lot of subtle symbolism to digest in this film; "Abraxas" will remain on my list to watch again and again as each viewing will reveal a new perspective.