A gem from Japan, where so many of the world's best films are being made today. Stylistically, this isn't anything all that special. It's just a simple drama (with some comic overtones) about recognizable people going about their lives. Yuko Tanaka, best known for voicing the character Lady Eboshi in Princess Mononoke, plays a 50 year old spinster. She's takes pride in her health, spending each morning in a vigorous workout as she delivers milk up and down the steep hills of Nagasaki. After she is done with this part time job, she works her regular job as a clerk at a grocery store (called S-Mart, which made this Army of Darkness fan giggle). Along her milk route lives a 50 year old man, whose wife is dying. It turns out the milk woman and the man, a child services worker, dated in high school, and each apparently still have something of a crush on the other. The film actually has some major narrative problems. When the screenwriter actually wants the two unrequited lovers to unite, he uses a pretty unbelievable deus ex machina technique. The climactic sequence is also really forced. But most of the film is beautifully small and observant of the two main characters, as well as many side characters. The film also has several subplots that seem like they will eventually weigh the film down, but never end up doing so. I think the best thing in the film is Tanaka's heartbreaking performance as the lonely milk woman, who has resigned herself to being alone for the rest of her life. Whatever the problems were, the film mostly transcends them.
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