Sweet red-bean paste - an - out of a can or homemade, it makes all the difference. Not only in your dorayaki pancakes, but in your life. That’s what a mirthless dorayaki seller learns from an elderly female cook. Director Kawase also asks the viewer for attention to beauty. Because after all, what use is cherry blossom if you never look up?
Japanese director Kawase Naomi (The Mourning Forest, 2007) makes films in which ordinary folk come to face existential pressure in their lives and have to find a way to cope and come to terms with loss. Aided by the contemplation of nature, with its beauty and cyclical pattern of death and resurrection.
In An, a food stall selling dorayaki (pancakes filled with the sweet red-bean paste an) is surrounded by cherry trees. The grumpy stallholder Sentaro doesn’t pay them any mind, until the older Tokue (Kiki Kirin), whom he hesitatingly takes on as assistant, draws his attention to their foliage, which transforms according to the seasons during the film, from blossom to falling leaves. Tokue (who just like Sentaro harbours a secret), with her cooking skills shown in close-up, and regular Wakana (Uchida Kyara, Kiki’s granddaughter) bring new life into the eatery. A quiet story, told in a naturalistic style, around a fundamental question: what is worthwhile in life as it is lived from day to day?