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Twice-married Sakura Asuka (the long-lost Yuki Uchida) finds life all too much and ends up tied to the table in the 'Quiet Room' of a mental hospital. In the ensuing days she glimpses the tragedies of her fellow inmates, while piecing together the events in her life that lead her to this impasse.
Suzuki's script encompasses light comedy, weighty drama, surreal visuals, slapstick, social commentary. It lurches from one to the other with barely a pause to mark the transition. The comedy works best, especially when Asuka is with her orthodontically-challenged husband Tetsuo (a study in comic timing from Kudo Kankuro). A reassuring bum-grab was especially effective in raising a smile. Uchida puts in a strong shift as the troubled Asuka, but is matched by a strong cast and surpassed by the electric Shinobu Otake, who is the only one who comes off as genuinely, scarily, mad at times.
It is entertaining while it lasts, but there is no sense of a life lived off screen for these characters, and their tragedies lack a deeper resonance (though the charismatic Aoi Yu as Miki manages to haunt the screen at times). I was touched by Asuka but did not feel I understood her, or particularly care about her character once the credits started to roll. There are some clangers - a musical number? - including the final reckoning with Tetsuo, which is played for laughs when it should be much more poignant. A frothy Girl, Interrupted is about the measure of it.
More fun than insightful, there is enough episodic comedy in this film to make it worth viewing. Asuka's roommate advises her to ditch all connection with the hospital once released. We can see each other through she says, but we'll only drag each other down on the outside. Good advice that applies to the film itself - enjoy it while it is there, but don't expect it to last in the memory long.
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