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A 40-year old man sees his life change when his wife gets pregnant. He already has a daughter from his first marriage whom he rarely sees and two step-daughters, from his wife's first marriage. The youngest of his step-daughters is looking forward to a baby brother or sister, but the oldest doesn't welcome the news and suddenly decides that she wants to live with her father. And as if that were not enough trouble, he is forced out of his good office job into an inferior position.Written by
I caught this film at the Japanese Film Festival in Ireland - I had no big expectations of the film, but I left pleasantly surprised. Its a modest film, but quite touching and engrossing, despite its slightly excessive length.
The film focuses on Makato, a middle aged man devoted to his wife, two step children, and his daughter from a previous marriage. His career is suffering from his refusal to do the extra hours and weekend work needed to climb the corporate ladder, he sees no sense in sacrificing time with his children. Unfortunately, his modest happiness is threatened by his wives pregnancy - he first worries at the impact on his daughter, but overlooks that his older step-daughter feels even more threatened by it. Only his wife seems happy about the pregnancy. As his step daughter rebels and he is demoted to a demeaning job at work, designed to force him out, his modest life threatens to fall apart.
The film is very nicely directed by Yukiko Mishima, although the editing is too loose - a number of flashbacks are superfluous and the film could have been tightened up and shortened. The cast, including the children, is uniformly very good. The film wisely avoids too much melodrama in favour of a slice of life realism, although there are plenty of fairly heavy handed visual metaphors added in. And its particularly nice to see a film which explores the difficulties in taking on step children. Even the no-good father of Makato's step kids is treated sympathetically by the film. This is a film with no bad guys or good guys, just people struggling with the petty tragedies of life.
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