“Reiko has been suffering from memory loss for some time, but her family doesn't really seem to notice. One day, she's examined by a doctor, who discovers that she has a terminal brain tumor and will probably die within a week. As her dementia worsens, Reiko begins to express her true feelings for the first time, such as her fear that the family is falling apart. Meanwhile, her husband is facing bankruptcy and the family has been at odds over everyday problems and mistrusts. Their sons, Kosuke and Shunpei, react to the family troubles in different ways. The older brother, Kosuke, clumsily tries to shoulder the burden of the family while younger brother, Shunpei, gradually dedicates himself to becoming a better son.”
(Text from the Festival's program)
In this family, the older son is a “recovered” Hikikomori who is now married and whose wife is expecting the first grandchild of the family. The younger son is an unreliable student who keep asking is mother for money. The husband's company is not making any money so the couple is deeply in debts. When the family notice that the mother is behaving strangely and has memory lapses, they bring her to the doctor. The prognostic is devastating: she has an unoperable brain tumor and won't probably live more than a week!
The two sons, who just discovered the extant of their parents debts, decide to do something about it. They also decide to seek second opinions on their mother's diagnosis. After visiting a 6th hospital with their mother's medical file, a doctor think that it might be a different type of tumor that could be treatable, so he refers them to another hospital and to a young female doctor. After more tests and a biopsy, it is revealed that the tumor is indeed treatable.
Through this ordeal the family -- which had been slowly falling apart -- is pulling together and it makes the sons to finally mature. I guess it shows that you must never give up. You must keep hope, give all your might and when things are getting though you must keep smilling...
As usual in Japanese cinema, this movie offers us nice imagery, particularly the beautiful landscape. It is a nice and enjoyable movie, but, somehow, I didn't feel any emotions. Usually such movies will make me cry, but in this case I unfortunately didn't feel any sadness. Was it me or was there something lacking in the stoytelling or the acting? I am not sure, but it was nevertheless a good story.
Our family (ぼくたちの家族 / Bokutachi no Kazoku): Japan, 2014, 117 min.; Dir.: Yuya Ishii; Scr.: Yuya Ishii (Based on the novel by Kazumasa Hayami); Phot.: Junichi Fujisawa; Ed.: Shinichi Fushima; Mus.: Takashi Watanabe; Cast: Satoshi Tsumabuki (Kosuke), Mieko Harada (Reiko), Sosuke Ikematsu (Shunpei), Kyozo Nagatsuka (Katsuaki), Mei Kurokawa, Yusuke Santamaria, Shingo Tsurumi, Yuka Itaya, Mikako Ichikawa. Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 25th, 2014 (Cinema Quartier Latin 15, 21h30 – the theatre was three-quarter full with about sixty people) as part of the “World Great” (Out of Competition) segment.
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