In a poor district of Edo lives a young samurai named Soza. He has been sent by his clan to avenge the death of his father. He isn't an accomplished swordsman however, and he prefers sharing the life of the residents, teaching the kids how to write etc. When he finally finds the man he is looking for, he will have to decide whether he follows the way of the samurai or chooses peace and reconciliation. Written by
It's one of those films you come out of smiling a wide happy smile - it's so delicate and subtly funny (alright, it does feature a lavatory, but none of the "standard" toilet humor), it's also kind to characters and makes its point(s) in a sly, unobtrusive manner.
It's a celebration of human values over the way of the samurai, especially as it has been presented in Japanese and Western popular culture in the past few decades. A joy to watch visually, too. I thought it might be Koreeda-san's best film so far, although some viewers may find it a bit more conventional/Westernized than, say, Nobody Knows or Maboroshi (which is not at all bad).
I will deliberately leave it at that, to avoid revealing any of the plot, which often overturns expectations.
It was the second film out of 17 I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it still remains a highlight for me.
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