Born in 1962 in Tokyo, Hirokazu Kore-eda started out directing documentary
His debut narrative film, Maboroshi No Hikari (1995), was peculiar
in the way it filmed its characters from a distance.
Una vecchia lascia la casa dove era ospite, invano rincorsa da una bambina.
Ha deciso di andare a morire al proprio villaggio.
Anni dopo la bambina e` diventata una donna ed e` sposata, con un figlio.
Suo marito e` un bravo ragazzo, anche se ruba una bicicletta dopo che
sconosciuti gli hanno rubato la sua. Vivono in semplicita` ma felici.
Lui lavora in una fabbrica, lei fa la donna di casa. Vivono in un appartamento
vicino alla ferrovia e si vedono in continuazione treni che passano.
Un giorno la polizia viene a prendere la donna: suo marito e` stato ucciso
da un treno, il corpo e` stato maciullato. Il macchinista sostiene che
l'uomo camminava sulle rotaie come se volesse farsi investire.
Una vicina trova il marito ideale per la vedova. E` anche lui vedovo, e
ha una bambina. La donna e suo figlio si mettono in viaggio (di nuovo su
un treno). Dal quartiere industriale della metropoli passano al paesaggio
rurale di un villaggio remoto sul mare. All'inizio i rapporti fra i due
coniugi sono freddi e formali, ma presto cominciano a conoscersi e piacersi.
Il bambino trova una sorellina con cui giocare. La natura calma e imponente
fa da cornice alla ritrovata serenita`. Non c'e` piu` il treno: c'e` il mare.
Sembra regnare l'armonia, ma una visita ai genitori crea turbamenti nella
donna: e` bastato tornare sul luogo dell'incidente per indurla a pensare.
E la donna non sa darsi pace: perche' mai il marito decise di suicidarsi?
La donna torna a casa triste e inquieta. Il marito e` impotente. Un giorno
la vede seguire ipnotizzata un funerale nella tormenta. La processione
si ferma in riva al mare: le nuvole si sono diradate e il tramonto avvolge
la figura della donna che rimane sola sulla spiaggia. L'uomo da` la colpa
al mare. Il paesaggio maestoso e silenzioso riporta la pace sulla famiglia.
Wandafuru Raifu/ Afterlife (1998) e` un racconto kafkiano su un
allegorico laboratorio per ricreare i ricordi dei morti.
It is also a philosophical investigation in the nature and value of memory,
and what makes life worth living. It may also be a metaphor for cinema itself,
since each movie focuses on "one memory" only out of all the possible stories
that one could tell about any single protagonist.
Un edificio in mezzo a un parco e` adibito a stazione di passaggio fra la
morte e il paradiso. Vi lavora un gruppo di ragazzi, guidati da un maestro.
Ciascun ragazzo intervista i morti e spiega loro come funziona la morte:
per passare da quel "purgatorio" al paradiso,
devono scegliere un ricordo della loro vita e quello sara` l'unico che
ricorderanno per il resto dell'eternita`. I ragazzi prima intervistano
i morti, poi guardano i filmati e discutono i casi con il maestro.
C'e` la prostituta, il pilota, la ballerina, il teppista, l'adolescente stupida,
la vecchia che si crede bambina, l'uomo che non vuole ricordare nulla...
Una volta che avranno scelto il ricordo preferito, il team di ragazzi
dovra` realizzare un filmato di quel ricordo.
I ragazzi compiono pertanto uno studio minuzioso della situazione per
ricostruire fedelmente l'ambiente.
I ragazzi si immedesimano sempre piu` con i loro casi. Le parti quasi
si capovolgono: i ragazzi cominciano a raccontare ai loro pazienti le
proprie vite e a confessare loro i ricordi di cui sono ossessionati.
Fra i ragazzi intervistatori c'e` una ragazza che sta facendo da assistente
a un ragazzo piu` esperto. Questi, morto giovane in guerra, viene colto da una
crisi quando scopre che il suo "caso" e` l'uomo che ha sposato la sua ex
fidanzata. Anche lei mori` e la ragazza lo aiuta a recuperare il filmato
del ricordo che lei scelse di portare con se` per sempre: e` il ricordo
di un loro incontro al parco. Il ragazzo decide che vuole a sua volta
passare in paradiso e pertanto e` pronto a scegliere egli stesso l'unico
ricordo da portare con se`: e` se` stesso solo sulla panca.
La ragazza prende il suo posto nella burocrazia della stazione. C'e` gia`
un altro gruppo di morti che attende di essere intervistato.
If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me. |
Distance (2001) is a half-baked character study and an ill-defined
analysis of social diseases, that, stylistically, borrows heavily from
Blair Witch Project.
The director does not seem interested in all in creating and following a
plot (which is basically wasted here). His attention is all focused on the
process of "believing": how do some ordinary people come to believe in
something that changes their lives, and how do other people, who did not
experience that "change", come to understand what had happened.
It is, ultimately, another meditation on memory and meaning, through the
solitary calvary as well as the collective self-flagellation of four
It is the third anniversary of the day when a religious cult killed scores
of people with a bacteriological weapon.
Four relatives and friends of members of the cult get together and
travel to the remote jungle area and to the specific location, a lake,
where the ordeal occurred for a memorial.
Each of them walks to the end of a little bridge, says a prayer and throws a
lily in the water.
(The bodies of the cult members were burned and their ashes were scattered
in the lake).
When they return to their car, they find out that it has been stolen.
They meet a former member of the cult who survived and trek with him to
the cabin where the cult members used to live.
Overnight, in the cabin, the relatives and the former cult member discuss what
it was like to be in the cult.
A series of flashbacks shows how their friends and relatives, all
ordinary people, became members of the cult.
The action in the present is filmed with a hand-held camera, whereas the
flashbacks employs lengthy shots.
In the flashbacks, a man deserts his wife and their baby, a wife
leaves her husband, a medical student in a swimming pool
Some of the flashbacks show, instead, a police officer interrogating the
survivors to make sense of what happened.
In the morning, the stranded group gets a ride back into town.
visting the old man, but old man just died - wasn't even his son
Masaru one of them shows pictures during a picnic to his girlfriend
One of them walks back to the lake and burns all of his pictures and the
Dare Mo Shiranai/ Nobody Knows (2004) is another
austere documentary-style semi-improvisational
film that involves four people who live in their own closed fantasy universe.
This time the universe is a happy and innocent one, one in which they feel
safe. And this time the four protagonists are
children who don't know the real world, and suddenly they have to explore it
and learn how to cope with it.
The film is neatly divided in three parts. At first it merely describes the
artificial and precarious paradise in which the children live. Then it
descibes their attempt at preserving the paradise once its artificial nature
has become undeniable (the mother has left them).
The camera now focuses on small insignificant objects that suddenly acquire
a much bigger meaning: they replace the mother who is no longer there,
because each of them reconstructs a memory of her having existed and
cared for the children.
Finally, when the equilibrium has been broken, a new "mother" appears to
help restore a new kind of equilibrium.
and her little boy, Akira, introduce themselves to the new landlord, promising
to be quiet tenants. Later the movers deliver their furniture and luggage.
Inside two suitcases are two more children, a girl and a boy.
Later Akira walks to the station to pick up his sister Kyoto.
The mom reminds the children that they have to be silent and not wander outside,
otherwise they will have to move yet again. Clearly none of the children
goes to school.
Akira and Kyoto take care of the younger ones when their mom is at work.
When she comes back from work late in the evening, she helps Akira study
while Kyoto does laundry for everybody.
The family arrangement is unusual, but they live happily together.
The first part of the movie is about presence: presence of the mother and
of the siblings, a presence enhanced by the fact that they are isolated from
the rest of the world. The second part is about absence: the mother is gone,
the children slowly lose faith in the unity of their family.
The third part is about freedom from the mother who used to determine if the
state was one of presence or absence.
Akira, who has been until then a passive victim of circumstances, suddenly
becomes a tragic figure, a victim of destiny.
The three parts also mark a progression from unawareness to dignity to
The film recasts the themes of loneliness and alienation (explored by filmmakers
since the time of Antonioni) into the world of children, the world of
collapsing families. Not the victims of industrialization, but the victims
of parental selfishness.
One night she talks to them about their fathers: it turns out that they
are children of four different men. And she told Akira that she is now dating
a new one, and she hopes he will marry her and take care of all of them.
One morning Akira finds a note from his mom: she's gone for a while and
left him some money. Akira has to take care of the children for one month,
begging two of the fathers (or suspected fathers) for additional money.
One day he is almost arrested for a misunderstanding at a convenience store,
a fact that could have turned into a major tragedy for the other three hidden
The mother comes back bringing presents for everybody. The children are
excited. But she leaves again, promising to be back by Christmas.
The children stick to their rituals inside the home, still obeying her
commands not to go outside. Akira is already aware that there is trouble ahead.
He becomes the little Ulysses who has to explore the city to understand how
they can survive without any guardian at all.
He pretends that mom sent them presents, but he is the one who bought them.
His sister Kyoto saves the money for when she can buy a piano.
For little Yuki's birthday the present is a walk outside the apartment,
through the streets of the big city that she has rarely seen.
They stare at the monorail that runs over their heads and Akira promises
that some day they will board it.
Akira makes two friends at a videogame store. They are spoiled, ill behaved
and selfish. They steal a toy from a store and invite Akira to do the same.
He refuses, puzzled. When he waits for them in front of the high school (that
he has never entered), they make fun of his house.
The economic situation is dire. Their bills are unpaid. Kyoto is aware of it
and gives Akira the money that she was saving for the piano. The only person
to know about them is the cashier of the convenience store, who kindly helps
Akira with leftovers. Akira decides
that their routine is pointless and takes everybody for a walk outside.
The city suspends their water service, so they have to go outside and get
water from drinking fountains at the nearby park. There they meet a melancholy
older high-school girl, Saki, who visits them at home and suddenly understands
their dire situation. To help, she accepts to entertain a businessman for
money. Akira sees it, and, disgusted, throws her money away and runs back home.
But their situation is getting worse by the day. And the children are no
longer disciplined. They are taking more and more chances going outside.
One day Akira happens to be near a baseball field when one of the teams needs
an extra player. He is happy to wear the uniform and play for real.
But just then, back at home, Yuki falls from a chair and falls in a coma.
Desperate for help, Akira finds the high-school girl and begs for money.
He uses the money to buy toys for Yuki, but Yuki dies. Just then they
receive an envelop from their mother with, finally, some money.
Akira and the girl put Yuki's corpse into the same suitcase that she arrived
in, and take the suitcase on the monorail (Akira's promise comes true but in
a cruel fashion). And they bury the suitcase outside the city, near the airport
and the sea. She takes his hand that is trembling. They take the monorail again
to go back to the city, all dirty from all the digging they have done with
their naked hands. The following day Akira and the girl are roaming the
streets with Akira's little siblings.
Kiseki/ I Wish (2011), vaguely reminiscent of
Ozu's Good Morning (1959), deals with a simple story but the
story is wrapped into gentle metaphors (the volcano that does not erupt,
the modern trains connecting to the big city, the traditional cake threatened
by modernity, etc).
When the children speak, it ccasionally feels like a documentary, with
sudden cuts and spontaneous childish thoughts.
It never turns into fairy tale mode, despite the semi-divine intervention
of a granpa and a granma.
(The country and blues soundtrack feels oddly out of context).
A child, Koichi,
stares at a volcano from his room's window. He thens wipes away the
ash from the floor. He lives with his mother and grandparents.
At school the teacher sympathyzes with him for being the son of divorced
Koichi is still attached to his little brother Ryu, who lives with his father
in another town.
Koichi's mother works as a supermarket cashier, his father is struggling to
make a living as a musician.
Koichi hears on tv that a high-speed railway is coming to their region,
linking his town with the city where his father and brother live.
During a science class Koichi overhears two children whispering that when
two bullet trains cross each other any wish can come true.
Koichi and his little friends immediately set out to study the map.
Koichi begins to wonder if he can elicit the miracle of his parents being
On the way home the trio notice that an old lady waiting at a railway
crossing has disappeared when the train passes by.
Koichi's grandfather drinks with three elderly friends and they discuss whether
a local cake can save the local economy from the competition that will
come with the store at the train station when the bullet train starts running
in two months time.
Grandfather takes Koichi on a ferris wheel and offers his the famous cake.
Koichi asks him why volcanos erupt and why people live near them, but
he doesn't get a convincing answer.
Grandfather has a humble job and supports them all.
Ryu reveals his older brother's secret plan to three girls who befriend him,
including a girl who wants to become an actress despite her mother advice.
When the family reunites for a dinner, however his parents start arguing
Grandfather keeps testing new recipes of the cake on Joichi and then serving
the cake to his three elderly friends. His friends suggest that he dyes it pink
to go with the new bullet train, but he refuses to compromise.
Schoolchildren wipe out the ashes of the volcano from the grounds of the school.
WHen Koichi overhears a child saying that his father got a ticket for the very
first run of the bullet train, he decides that his turn has come: he mobilizes
his two best friends to find money (e.g. searching for coins dropped
under vending machines and selling toys) and to draw up a plan to skip class.
The three girls instruct Ryu to phone his brother and volunteer to meet him
One day Koichi and his two friends feign illness in class and, thanks to the
complicity of the school's nurse and Koichi's grandfather, they are successfully
dismissed for the day.
Each child has a wish. One of the three wants his dog, who just died, to be
They board a slow train to a point where the paths of the two fast trains
Meanwhile Ryu and his three little girlfriends, including the aspiring actress,
board a similar train in the city.
They all meet in a town that they don't know. When one gets lost, a cop
rescues him. Then the others look for him until they find him and the cop.
They lie to the cop and the older girl pretends that she's the granddaughter
of a local woman. The local woman goes along with the lie and takes in the
seven children. They get food, beds, and directions to the buller train rails.
It turns out the old woman misses her only daughter.
At night Koichi and his brother chat it out while eating granpa's cake.
The elderly couple, who had the time of their life nursing the seven children,
even give them a ride to the magic point where the two trains speed past
They wait and they they all shout their wishes as the train flashes by.
Actually, at the last minute Koichi decided not to make any wish, and his
brother confesses that he made a different wish.
The children take their respective trains back to their respective towns.
The girl who aspires to be an actress announces to her sleeping mother that
she has decided to move to Tokyo and become an actress.
Koichi explains that he chose "the world" over his family.
Back home Ryu asks their father what is the world, and his father can't reply.
Back home Koichi makes his granpa happy by telling him that Ryu liked his cake.
The volcano is still erupting ashes over the town.
Soshite chichi ni naru/ Like Father Like Son (2013) is a melancholy
domestic drama/comedy in which Koreeda contrasts two families, and in particular
two men, who have different lifestyles and fifferent incomes.
There is a sort of doppelganger theme that intersects with class struggle
and with a philosophical discussion on fatherhood
(amd, this being Japanese society, fatherhood matters more than motherhood).
The calm and pensive film rarely turns sensational, except
when the mother is asked to separate from the boy she adopted.
The light touch and the almost documentary indifference are reminiscent of
Ozu although not quite as implacable.
Keita is the smart, well-behaved little child of a wealthy young couple.
His father is a businessman who works in a high-rise building.
His mother a devoted housewife.
They spoil the child a little bit but, altogether, they live a happy life together.
Then one day they receive a phone call from the hospital where Keita was born:
babies were switched at birth. A DNA test confirms that Keita is not their
They are asked to meet the couple who raised their biological son,
The father is a humble and lazy shopkeeper, who is aging faster than he would
if he took better care of himself. The mother is a waitress.
The couples decide that eventually they will switch children, but the process
has to be gradual, so initially each child is sent to stay with the other
couple for one day each week.
Each couple is clearly attached to each child, either because of blood or
because they raised him day by day.
Keita's father Ryota, however, has a secret plan. He talks to a friend who is an
attorney about keeping custody of both children. After all, he can give either
child a better future than the other couple would.
The upbringing actually favors the working-class couple:
Ryusei's sloppy habits conflict (and occasionally irritate) his biological parents' stiff manners, whereas
Keita gladly drops his artificial manners for his biological parents' casual manners.
In fact, the lazy working-class father spends more time with the children
(both of them) than the busy pretentious Ryota ever did with Keita.
When the couples go out together, it is the poor father who wears himself out
to play with the children, while Ryota merely watches.
Ryota's wife Midori, who feels that he blames her for not having realized she was
raising the wrong child, is also unhappy to part with Keita, and not for blood
reasons but simply because she loves him, and even toys with the idea of running
away with the child.
When Ryota finally offers money to buy the custody of both Keita and Ryusei,
the other couple is offended: they are poor but there are things that money
cannot buy. And this after the poor father has proven over and over again
with his behavior that he is a better father.
Ryota's own wife is ashamed and forces Ryota to apologize.
The two couples are reunited at the trial against the hospital.
In court they are surprised by the confession of the
young nurse who made the mistake: she did it on purpose because, as a
poor struggling working-class mother, she resented the happiness of the
Ryota's father is ill and summons his two sons. Ryota obeys but he is initially
arrogant because he suspects his father simply wants more money from him.
His father belongs to the same social class as Ryusei's father.
The old man advises Ryota to exchange the boys because, as they get older,
Ryusei will behave more and more like Ryota, and Keita more and more like
the other father: it is all "in the blood". But Ryota's mother thinks otherwise.
Ryota resumes his routine of working till late, even when Ryusei stays
with them (which really means that he stays with Ryota's wife).
Ryota has also become less tolerant of Keita's weaknesses.
Meanwhile the two mothers are getting closer that the two fathers are.
Ryota has made up his mind: he tells Keita that he has to move with the
other couple and call them "father" and "mother". His wife is heartbroken,
but he has not spent every single minute of those six years with the child
the way she has. They have different memories. For him it is easier to
separate himself from the child for whom he has always been half a stranger.
For her it is her entire life that goes away. And she probably also feels
that the child is a helpless victim: nobody is asking Keita what he prefers.
The two mothers hug each other, as Midori confesses that
she can't have any more children and Keita wanted a brother, so maybe Keita
will be happier with the other couple (that has two other children).
Ryota tries in vain to explain to Ryusei that he has to call him "father":
the child keeps asking "why?"
His own boss advises Ryota to slow down and spend more time with his family.
His wife is amazingly willing to switch sons and start behaving affectionately
to Ryusei like she did to Keita.
Ryusei is a difficult child, who disobeys all the time.
The nurse who caused the problem is willing to pay some damages. Ryota
personally walks to her house to return the money. He begins lecturing
her on how she destroys his family but is then confronted by her own son,
a little boy who seems ready to beat him up.
Ryota is unhappy and confused. He calls his parents to apologize for his
Ryusei is even more unhappy: he runs away and finds a way to get back to
his old house and play with his old parents.
When Ryota walks in to pick him up, Keita does not even look at him.
It is obvious that the poor father was doing a much better job with Ryusei
and is now doing a much better job with Keita. Both children would in fact
be happy to live with the poor couple, exactly the opposite of Ryota's
Ryota finally learned his lesson and starts playing with Ryusei like he
never did with Keita.
But now that he is human he also realizes how much he misses Keita.
Ryota and his wife bring back Ryusei to the family the child still misses.
Keita, upon seeing them, runs away, resentful that they abandoned him to
the other family. Ryota has to follow him for a long way while apologizing
over and over again. Finally Keita accepts to hug him again and they
walk back together to the store where the other children are waiting.
The poor family welcomes the rich couple and they all laugh together.
We will never know what they decide to do with the boys.
The trademark fusion of Ozu-ism and Italian neorealism is on display again
in Umi Yori Mo Mada Fukaku/ After the Storm (2016), ostensibly the
tragedy of a failed man who wants to regain his son's respect but in reality
a tender comedy of an ordinary family in which nobody is perfect except
the aging granma, and she's the one who peacefully architects a healing of
The story seems relatively uneventful but it is actually a story of
catastrophic contradictions: the novelist (who is supposed to work with
imaginary stories) is a detective (who works on real stories),
and the detective (who is supposed to uncover the truth) fabricates
evidence; he can't get his wife back despite his daily job of documenting
other people's failed marriages; he fears that his sister is taking advantage
of their mother when he is in fact stealing from her;
The final bonding between father and child has its own thrilling aspect:
we are left wondering whether the father simply bonded with the child or
actually infected with the same gambling addiction that destroyed the lives
of father and grandfather.
The film opens with the voice of a radio broadcaster announcing that a
typhoon is about to strike the city. Daughter and mother chat about the
father/husband who just died. The old woman was married to him for 50
years and now she feels liberated. A man, Ryota, travels by commuter
train and then local bus to this apartment: he is the brother/son.
A former classmate who meets him in the street offers her condolences.
The loudspeakers of the tenement ask everybody to be on the lookout for
an old man who has gone missing.
Ryota enters his mother's apartment when the two women have already left.
He searches for valuables but instead finds a pawnbroker receipt: his father
pawned even his stamp collection. His mother arrives and guesses that he needs
money. He asks about an ancient scroll that belonged to the dead man: his
mother tells him that she threw everything in the garbage after the funeral.
Ryota expresses concern that his sister is trying to take advantage of the
old woman. His mother shows him the tangerine that he planted in high school
and that she still waters even though it doesn't yield any fruit.
He is trying to help her move it inside but breaks the window.
He gets on the phone with someone who expects him to pay back a debt.
His mother guesses. Instead he gives her money. She knows that he has no money
but she still mentions that her dream is to move to a nicer apartment.
They leave and meet the old teacher who organizes a group of people
interested in classical music. She proudly introduces Ryota as a novelist.
They briefly gossip about the professor, who has a widower, and then the mother
tells Ryota that she was followed by a butterfly. Thinking that the butterfly
was her dead husband, she told him clearly that she doesn't miss him and doesn't
want him to ever come back. They discuss Ryota's son Shingo, who plays baseball.
Then Ryota walks to the pawn shop to pawn a camera that he took from the
apartment. The pawnbroker tells him that his father borrowed money when Ryota
was being operated of a tumor, but Ryota was never operated; and his father
even asks for money to celebrate his recovery, but there never was one.
Ryota learns that his father actually pawned the ancient scroll, except that
it was only a print and it was worth nothing.
So far we learned that: Ryota's father left debts behind, Ryota is a novelist
but is also broke, his wife divorced him and has a new boyfriend, and Ryota
owes her child support money.
Ryota's paying job is in a detective agency.
Ryota and his detective partner Machida, dressed business style, meet a woman at a
restaurant. A client paid to uncover her love affair. They showed her the
pictures of her with her lover and tell her that her husband will certainly
use them to get a favorable divorce... unless she pays them to replace the
pictures with fake ones. She pays the bribe/ransom and she hires them to
work for her and spy on the husband. Ryota gambles the money at the races
and loses all of it. In fact, he has to borrow some from his partner.
They report to their boss that the woman is not cheating on her husband the
Later they follow the husband and see him with a girl.
Ryota's apartment is small and messy. Machida wakes up him. They drive to
the baseball field where Shingo is playing.
Ryota watches him through binoculars and sees
his ex wife with another man. He is clearly jealous.
Machida tells Ryota that his ex-wife's lover is a rich man.
They follow them to a fancy restaurant.
The child is unhappy: he loves his granma.
Ryota has to hide in the restrooms to meet his son. They briefly chat.
Ryota follows the three home. He watches his ex-wife
Kyoko, her lover and his son
with tears in his eyes. His agent offers him a stable job: writing stories
for a famous manga, stories that require gambling experience. He refuses.
He is working on a new novel. He meets his sister. She is critical of his
lifestyle: it's been 15 years since he won a literary award. The sister
is also suspicious that he gave his mother money. She also tells him that
their father begged her for money until the end. They remember their father
spending all the family's money.
Ryota's mother attends a meeting of the classical-music club.
Machina and other colleagues discuss divorce in front of him.
Ryota clearly still loves his wife. Ryota and Machida meet a guy who delivers
another set of pictures. These are hot pictures of the husband cheating on
Ryota and a sexy colleague follow the man and document his extramarital
affair, even recording the noise of the couple from the room next to it.
The following day they deliver the evidence to the wife. She is happy that
her husband cheats on her, and doesn't seem shocked that the lover is
an old friend of hers, and pays the Ryota and Machida a lot of money.
The typhoon is approaching.
Ryota meets his ex-wife Kyoko at a used-book fair. She asks for the money
he owes her. She gives him a ultimatum. Ryota and Shingo hang out. He buys
him expensive baseball shoes to compete with his ex-wife's rich lover.
Ryota buys him lottery tickets.
The typhone is approaching.
Ryota insists to take the child to visit granma. As they walk the neighborhood,
Ryota tells Shingo stories of his own childhood, like the night that he spent
inside a playground's structure.
Ryota suspects that his sister is using their mother's pension money to pay
for her daughter's figure skating lessons.
The typhoon has started. Kyoko comes to pick up Shingo and the family of Ryota's sister waits to say hi to her. Everybody still treats her as a member of the
family, and everybody likes her a lot. Granma treats her like a daughter.
Granma cooks for her and Shingo and Ryota and then insists that Kyoko and Shingo
spend the night there because the typhoon is raging outside. Kyoko reluctantly
agrees. Shingo makes granma happy by reading his essay about her.
He wants granma to live with them. Kyoko is upset that Ryota bought lottery
tickets for her son: the last thing she wants is that Ryota turns her son
into another failure like his father and his grandfather. Granma makes the
bed for her son and his ex-wife: she deliberately wants them to sleep next
to each other. Ryota mentions the job offer and Kyoko simply sighs that she
told him countless times to take a job like that. He never did.
He asks her questions about her new boyfriend and cries when she tells him
that she already had sex with him. She guesses that he followed her.
She threatens to stop his visits to Shingo if he doesn't pay the money he
owes her. Outside the rain is now very strong.
Ryota tries to stel his mother's money but instead of the banknotes he finds
a note written by his sister "sorry, brother". His mother discusses the fact
that his father died in his sleep but now still shows up in her dreams.
The dead man is still alive in his own way.
She thinks that someone who suffers for a long time before dying is less
likely to show up in dreams.
She is not sure which one is better for the living and wants her son to choose:
would he prefer that she dies in her sleep and then show up in his dreams,
or that she dies after a long illness? He picks the latter.
She gives a philosophical speech about happiness and tells him to write it
in his novel.
The typhoon keeps everybody awake in the small apartment. Ryota and SHingo
decide to go for a walk in the dark under the rain. They take shelter inside
the playground structure, reenacting the episode that created a bond between
Ryota and his father. Kyoko does not stop them. After a few minutes she joins
them. Shingo loses the lottery tickets in the wind and the three of them run
in the storm to pick them up. Kyoko still tells Ryota that she has made up
her mind to move on, and he replies that he understood.
The following morning they part. Ryota pawns an inkstone for calligraphy
that he found at his mother's place. This one is indeed worth the money
that he needs. The pawnbroker also tells him that his father was very proud
of his novel and asks him to autograph the copy his father gave him.
The family takes the train together one more time.
Manbiki Kazoku/ Shoplifters (2018)
borrows from Italian neorealism and Charles Dickens but it is set firmly in the era of the crisis of the family. Its moral sociopolitical foundation is ambiguous: the "parents" exploit children to make money, but those children have been abandoned or abused by the wealthy middle-class parents. In the first scene the domestic life of this family looks quite ordinary, at least for families that live in slums. Initially, the dissonance is about poverty in a rich country like 2018 Japan. But soon one realizes that the film depicts a disordered domestic life, and the real dissonance lies in the fact that this family is not a family but a puzzle of familial tragedies. The children are both kidnapped children and betrayed children, betrayed by their biological parents and kidnapped by this thieving adoptive family. What superficially is a fairy tale of the gutters, confined to a bizarre family that represents the exception rather than the rule of this wealthy society, reveals itself to be a bleak fresco of urban alienation that affects the whole society.
An adult, Osamu, and a boy, Shota, shoplift inside a grocery store.
On the way home they spot a runaway little girl, Juri, and take her home
with them. She is frail and full of scars. Osamu and his wife Nobuyo
think of returning her to her family but upon approaching the home they
hear screams, and they take the little girl back to her home.
Juri tells them that she got the scars because she fell.
Osamu is a construction worker, his wife Nobuyo works in a textile factory
and occasionally steal little objects.
Clearly, Shota is not going to school, but only employed by Osamu for shoplifting.
Their "daughter" Aki is a young woman who works at a hostess club.
They live in a shack owned by "granma" Hatsue. A friend is trying to convince
her to sell. Granman has the best income: a steady pension.
Shota takes little girl Juri to steal in the grocery store.
One day Osamu comes home injured: he therefore loses his job.
Osamu on crutches takes the children to shoplifting.
Osamu takes Shota to steal from a car, and reminds him
how they found him locked in a car (therefore they kidnapped him).
But now Shota suspects that maybe Osamu simply wanted to steal from that car,
not save a child abandoned in it.
Juri is getting attached to Shota.
Then one day they see Juri on TV: her parents are desperately looking for her
and she has become a big story for the press.
They cut her hair and change her name to Lin.
Granma and Nobuyo also steal new clothes for her.
Another bad news: Nobuyo's boss tells Nobuyo and a coworker that he needs to
lay off one of the two and let them decide. The coworker blackmails Nobuyo:
she has seen the little girl. Nobuyo accepts to lose the job.
Granma also makes money another way. She visits a rich couple, her stepson
and his wife, who live in a nice apartment. They give her money for Aki, who
is their daughter and they think that she emigrated to Australia, presumably
a scam concocted by granma.
Granma, Osamu, Nobuyo and the children spend a day at the beach, and granma
is happy to feel that she has a family (although it is a fake family, three
members having been de facto kidnapped). She dies later at home. The couple
quickly decide that they cannot tell the authorities and bury them under
the shack. Luckily, Aki had seen her secret code and can continue to withdraw
her pension from the ATM.
One day Shota sees Juri stealing something from the store and distracts the
owner by openly stealing something himself, making sure the owner sees him.
The owner runs after him. When he finds himself cornered, Shota jumps from
an overpass. He breaks his leg and ends up at the hospital. Interrogated, he
arouses the police's curiosity about the couple. They are arrested just when
they were trying to flee with Juri. The police identifies Juri and the news
spread to the press. The police return Juri to her parents and send Shota to
an orphanage and a school. The police tell Aki that
Osamu and Nobuyo had killed Nobuyo's abusive husband in a crime of passion.
They also tell Aki about granma's scheme to make money out of her parents.
The only one to go to prison is Nobuyo, who confesses to the murder.
When Osamu takes Shota to visit Nobuyo in prison, Nobuyo describes to the boy
the car where he was locked when they found him, so that he can track down his
parents. Shota admits to Osamu that he deliberately wanted to be caught
(in a sense, he wanted to put an end to Osamu's scheme). Nonetheless, he sounds
honestly attached to Osamu. Juri, meanwhile, is playing alone at home, and
staring out of the window.