Ritual ★★★★★

Ritual is Hideaki Anno's independent art film variation of the prominent themes he explored in Neon Genesis Evangelion: Mental illness, depression, loneliness, abandonment, self-hatred, and how trying to escape reality because of these issues can be very destructive. While not on the level of Evangelion in my opinion, it's still extremely close.

Anno's second effort into live-action filmmaking is probably an improvement from his previous one, Love & Pop, which is also a masterwork. Ritual boasts Anno's distinct and dynamic visual style, gorgeous set design, and amazing performances. Every shot here is framed and composed so perfectly and the movie looks incredibly beautiful. Ayako Fujitani, who wrote the novel that this film is based on, has delivered one of my personal favorite performances.

On this watch of Ritual, I connected with Fujitani's character even more. All of Hideaki Anno's protagonists are complex and relatable, but her character is definitely one of the best ones to be featured in his films. She's someone who tries to desperately repress her trauma by remaining in a false image of the same day while time moves forward, wasting years of her life in the process. It's very easy to fall into that sort of self-deceptive pattern with life. Existence can often be too much to bear, so it's more appealing to just distract yourself through self-deception rather than actually confront your distress. It doesn't ever solve anything or improve your situation, but at least it provides a sense of comfort even if that comfort is hollow and superficial.

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