“On first glance, Shunzuke, 47, seems to have everything, a top job at an electronics company, a loving beautiful wife Akiko, a son Daisuke and a daughter Sakiko and a nice house where he lives with his father Shuntaro. But the respect he gets at work doesn't extend to the domestic front, especially after Akiko discovered a now-ended affair of his. Meanwhile, Daisuke has skipped university to work in low-end jobs, Sakiko doesn't talk to him, and Shuntaro is having serious health problems. On the eve of a possible promotion at work, Shunsuke decides that his family comes first.”
(Text from the Festival's program)
A man who was too busy building a successful career is about to get a big promotion, but then realized that he has never been there for his family. He never listened to his wife, missed all of his daughter parent's days at school, was not there to support his son when he was having academic difficulties and didn't notice that his aging father was getting senile. He decide to take everyone on a family trip to bring them together, apologize for his failings and search for the lost memory of his father's childhood.
Directed by Mitsutoshi Tanaka (who also directed Ask this of Rikyu, presented in competition at last year's MWFF), it is a beautiful but sad movie about family, the challenges of old age, like dementia, and which shows us the beautiful landscapes of rural Japan (for their trip they travel to the Fukui Prefecture). I think it is also a reflexion on the shifting values of 21st century Japan: what's the use to work yourself out if you don't have a nice and enjoyable place to come to after?
Somehow, this movie hit close to home, therefore I personnally found it very touching. It's a very good and enjoyable movie.
Blossom bloom (サクラサク / Sakura saku): Japan, 2014, 107 min.; Dir.: Mitsutoshi Tanaka; Scr.: Masashi Sada (based on his short story), Eriko Komatsu; Phot.: Takeshi Hamada; Ed.: Shinichi Fushima; Mus.: Ko Otani; Art Des.: Koichi Wakamatsu; Prod.: Norihisa Ohara, Ryosuke Otani; Cast: Naoto Ogata (Shunsuke Osaki), Kaho Minami (Akiko), Tatsuya Fuji (Shuntaro), Karen Miyama (Sakiko), Masato Yano (Daisuke), Kanji Tsuda, Kyusaku Shimada, Sumie Sasaki, Ren Osugi. Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 23rd, 2014 (Cinema Quartier Latin 12, 11h40 – the theatre was tiny but it was nearly three-quarter full; Interestingly, a large part of the audience was made of Japanese ladies and elderly couples!) as part of the “Focus on World Cinema” segment.
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