In 26 years, Yazaki Hitoshi has made four films. In 1992 he was in Rotterdam with what later was to turn out to be the influential March Comes in Like a Lion, and only now has he returned. His latest film is milder and more audience-friendly than the severe work from the 1990s, but under the surface a lot of idiosyncrasy remains. Maturity ensures plenty of psychological insight and craftsmanship.
The film, based on a popular manga by Nananan Kiriko, is about four different young women who largely live at cross purposes. They are acted by the well-known Japanese actresses Nakamura Yuko (Akiyo), Nakagoshi Noriko (Chihiro), Ikewaki Chizuru (Riko) and Ando Nasanobu (Kikuchi). Nananan Kiriko, the creator of the manga, also plays a role. The women are followed two by two and the stories continue to run in parallel throughout the film.
They are modern self-sufficient women and their stories are told with mild irony and a dash of melancholy. Humour and realistic drama enter into a refined bond. It never gets coarse and is never sentimental. For instance Akiyo sleeps in a coffin to remain conscious of her mortality, but that doesn't mean the film is full of cartoon jokes like this. The film is more reflective and authentic in its image of contemporary urban Japan. The film is pleasant and entertaining, but the viewer is not lulled to sleep. (GjZ)