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Sayonara Wild Hearts review – exuberance, precision and shattered love


A huge part of any creative endeavour, I suspect, is learning how to stick things together. It’s so strange, really, that at the heart of such a mysterious process should be something so deeply, infuriatingly practical. So how do you stick things together? Some of the best film-makers find their movies in the edit, in that frightening, abstract landscape where time is fractured and can spin backwards, forwards, sideways if you want, while, simultaneously, the cutting suite is littered with old Hula-Hoop packets, its tables haloed with coffee stains. It’s not just film: Ralph Ellison, when asked why his second novel was taking so many decades to finish, generally replied by saying that he was working on “the transitions.” (Also, his house burned down at one point, which can’t have helped.)

And here is Sayonara Wild Hearts. It’s a game I want to shake and then hold to my ear, listening for a rattle, for a hint of the shape of the internal mechanism. In one way, Sayonara Wild Hearts is absolute simplicity. In another it is a dizzying headlong rush of ideas, pranks, nightmares, middle-eights and other glittering fragments. What sticks this together is interaction. You move, you avoid, you collect, you match the rhythm, and around you one thing becomes another, becomes another, becomes another. A highway grows ambitious and launches itself at the sky. A deer bounds across a fractal winter forest. A ship rolls over humpbacked low-poly waves. Onwards!

The theme, if you ask me, is heartbreak and bitter romance and the journey through it all, but experienced as it can only be experienced in the teens and early twenties, when the drama is lurid and the setbacks are brutal and echoing and unprecedented. The whole thing is delivered with the vividness and force of a good revenge fantasy.