"Permanent Nobara" is another off beat dramatic comedy from the director of the excellent "Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers!". The combination of a somewhat low key method of film making, along with a general under current of steady weirdness throughout, is inherent to this director's approach to storytelling and, if this movie and "Funuke " are any indication, it's obvious this is something this director is quite good at.
Miho Kanno stars as Naoko; a single mom with a young daughter who's forced to relocate to her backwards home town after her recent divorce. It soon becomes clear that just about everyone living in this small seaside fishing village is a little off from her now grown childhood friends, to the unreliable available men in town, to the oversexed and overly gossipy gaggle of middle aged hags who hang out at a hair salon that does only one hair style; tightly coiled perms that look dreadful.
Naoko has no choice but to reintegrate herself into this small town however, and, she does so as best as possible while she tries to get her life back together. Her daily dealings with the strange collection of town folk is frequently amusing and sometimes touching. She doesn't seem to mind or even care that everyone in town is a bit weird, and she in no way looks down on these people.
For much of the story, Naoko is fairly aimless she doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to her child, and spends much of her time revisiting her old friends, trying to reconnect with her divorced parents, and helping out at the salon on occasion. She's seems almost carefree and lazy at times, and for much of the film, she simply serves as a proxy for the viewer to observe the goings on around her. She soon starts a cautious relationship with her former home town high school teacher though, and from there the story begins to focus more and more on her alone. There is a slight problem with this new relationship however and, things don't always go the way Naoko has hoped for with the new man in her life, and that leads her to begin questioning what she is doing, and eventually her own sanity.
There are a fair amount of comedic scenes here (sometimes darkly so), but this movie is much more of a dramatically driven affair than compared to "Funuke...". It can be quite a bit sad at times actually, but there is enough comedy throughout, and plenty of the wonderful signature strangeness I've now come to expect from this director I'm very much looking forward to his next film.
Solidly recommended...7 out of 10 stars!
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