Where are we welcome? On a quiet street in Helsinki, Sachie has opened a diner featuring rice balls. For a month she has no customers. Then, in short order, she has her first customer, ... See full summary »
Tamako graduated from a university in Tokyo, but she now lives with her father back in Kofu. Tamako doesn't help her father or tries to get a job. She spends her time just eating and sleeping throughout the four seasons of the year.
Tsuneo is a university student working part-time in a mah-jong parlour. Lately the customers have been talking about an old lady who pushes a baby carriage through the streets. They say she... See full summary »
A high school student named Yu has a crush on one of her classmates, Yosuke. The boy spends most of his time sitting outside and playing his guitar, and Yu sits nearby and listens. One day,... See full summary »
Suzume Katagura is a bored housewife who spends her days doing chores and taking care of her husband's pet turtle. One day she sees a wanted ad for spies. Hoping for some excitement she decides to give them a call.
Sei is reading aloud in his Primary 6 class when his pubescent body betrays him. Suddenly alert to the delights of the female sex, he develops an instant crush on junior high school pupil Nao. Nao has more than younger boys to worry about, as her parents acrimonious divorce and father's failing business mean she is already growing up too fast.
Perhaps only in Japan could a film on primary school children experiencing first love feature close up shots of semen. The biological, visceral elements of this universal anguish are foregrounded in this narrative, which still somehow manages to achieve an authentic tone that will bring back bittersweet memories for many. Masahiro Hisano as Kei and Yukika Sakuratani as his muse Nao give naturalistic, endearing performances that drive the film. Sei's torment is heartfelt and gut-wrenching. It speaks directly to your own long-buried primary school self. Jun Kunimura is under-used as Sei's father, a worldly-wise temple priest. His one moment of offering advice, along the lines of there is no fathoming of the female species to be had, is a terrific moment of father-son bonding.
Where the writing falls short is in the depiction of the two mothers. Sei's mother gushes and delights in finding her son's crusty underwear under the bed, and tells all and sundry of his entry to puberty as if he had passed the entrance exam for Cambridge. Nao's mother, in the one scene that we get to see her, turns out to be equally frivolous and giggly. It is odd that the fathers are depicted with layers but the mothers are so one-note and fraudulent.
Charming and engaging, this film delights and entertains in equal measure. It reminded me of my own long-forgotten first crushes and squirming embarrassments. Nostalgia of the best kind.
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