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Viewed at CineMatsuri 2015. Japan Academy Award winning Director Yuya Ishii disappoints with a film that is contrived, circular, and boring. It lacks chemistry between on-screen characters and character resonance with the viewer. The story essentially ends up were it began (a modern Japanese family facing typical semi-irresolvable issues). Then there is the hard-to-swallow plot device using an initial medical diagnosis of brain cancer with a life expectancy of one week (!) for the mother (who is fully mobile, depressed, and has occasional memory lapses). The Director shamelessly milks this initial medical diagnosis for all it is worth including extensive padding with many slow and boring "character-building" scenes. There is much telegraphing to minimize surprises (unrepaired car body damage = family financial strife; MD saying future tests are needed to possibly revise the initial diagnosis = contrived Hollywood happy ending; etc.). The mother is played by veteran actress, Mieko Harada, who delivers the best (but disconnected) lines in the script--sort of like a stand-up comedian (but, this time, sitting/lying down)! That said, Director Ishii seems to be making some medical reality statements including: (1) if you are seriously sick, the nearest physician and hospital may not be the best ones; (2) your family needs to rapidly get smart on your disease and its treatment; (3) always get many second opinions; and (4) the medial safety net in Japan is essentially nonexistent. (If you live in the USA, bet all/most of this is familiar, unfortunately.) Back acting (where line delivery is photographed from behind or the side) is used during the final scene. Cinematography (1.78 aspect ratio, color), lighting, and set decoration are okay. Sound production is fine. Music is undistinguished. Subtitles are close enough to line readings, but only above-the-line names are translated in the credits (which seems to be an insult--perhaps not intended--to the many others who contributed to the making of this film). There was no audience applause after the film ended. Dead silence. WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.
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