Director: Kôji Fukada
Stars: Fumino Kimura, Kento Nagayama, Tetta Shimada, Atom Sunada, Tetsuta Hirona
Japanese writer-director Kôji Fukada’s latest is a deeply humane study of loss, distance and communication. Taeko (Kiumura) and her husband Jirô (Nagayama) live in a smart, small apartment in a nondescript housing block with their six-year-old son Keita (Shimada). Keita is Taeko’s son from a previous marriage. They live a life of loving contentment and routine, although Jirô’s parents are critical of his marriage choice, particularly her gruff father-in-law, indicating that they are still awaiting the couple to produce a ‘real’ grandchild for them. When a tragic accident occurs, Teako and Jirô’s relationship begins to spin off its axis, their problems compounded when Jirô’s ex starts working at his company, as well as the return of Takeo’s troubled Korean ex-husband Park (Sonada), who had walked out on her suddenly years earlier. There are moments of whimsy and the script occasionally wanders into melodrama and contrivance, but the exceptional performances keep events grounded, most notably Kimura’s contained turns as the strong but devastated Taeko. Fukada’s direction is stately and lyrical in its deployment of recurring visual motifs, while Hideo Yamamoto’s airy soft lighting signals a tentative hope. Akiko Yano’s 1991 eponymous melancholy jazz pop ballad that inspired the picture and features on the closing credits is quite lovely.
Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm