Tokyo Film Festival Review: Peacock’s Lament

While there’s undoubtedly a growing level of hardship in all European countries, I don’t think most people can grasp what absolute poverty looks like. Not just the inability to feed your family well, but the lack of basics such as housing, water and food. About a quarter of Sri Lankans live in poverty and with spiralling prices for food and energy this is only set to rise. Deprivation is particularly stark in the countryside. Peacock’s Lament tells one autobiographical tale.

Amila (Akalanka Prabhashwara) was born in a small village in Eastern Sri Lanka. After the death of his parents, he finds himself the head of the family of five siblings. With no way of supporting them, they move to the capital and he takes up work as a labourer. When his twelve-year-old sister Inoka needs urgent surgery, he takes employment with Malini (Sabeetha Perera), a middle-aged woman who runs a child trafficking operation.

The charm of Peacock’s Lament is the way it tackles incredibly difficult subjects in a matter of fact, even dryly comedic, way. The form and composition in exact. Almost rigorous. Using a static camera affords each scene a kind of unworldly resonance. Based on his own life, Sanjeewa Pushpakumara’s film is beautifully paced and cleverly offbeat. Peacock’s Lament is a beautifully crafted drama about a brother just trying to care for his siblings.

Peacock’s Lament screens at Tokyo International Film Festival.

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