家に帰ると妻が必ず死んだふりをしています。 「Ie ni Kaeru to Tsuma ga Kanarazu Shinda Furi wo Shite Imasu」
Release Date: June 08th, 2018
Duration: 115 mins.
Director: Toshio Lee
Writer: Fumi Tsubota (Screenplay), K. Kajunsky Ichida (Original Story)
Starring: Ken Yasuda, Nana Eikura, Ryohei Otani, Sumika Nono,
Ken Yasuda and Nana Eikura make an odd couple in this rom-com that comes with shades of sentimentality and darkness to give a lesson on how some people express a need for love and support.
Based on a series of Yahoo! Answers messages that were novelised, this is the tale of an average salaryman named Jun (Ken Yasuda) who gets a shock whenever he returns home from work: his wife Chie (Nana Eikura) is dead every time. She isn’t really dead. It’s nothing supernatural or nefarious, she just likes to set up a scene complete with elaborate props and costumes for her husband to walk in on. Whether she is as a victim of a wild animal attack, shot through the head with an arrow or worse, Chie likes to surprise her husband. Only he doesn’t like what he sees as strange behaviour and seeks advice from work colleagues as he hopes to curb her performances. There is a deeper motivation to what Chie does and Jun will have to start looking past the theatre and at take his wife’s emotional needs seriously to understand her. Could her cryptic use of the phrase, “The moon is so blue tonight” be the key to making him realise?
The path to reconciliation for the two is easy to understand as their journey considers the strain and desire involved in keeping a relationship going in the face of an uncertain future and also how we express ourselves to a significant other. This is the underlying and serious message covered by Chie’s antics, most of which, along with the varying levels of reciprocation that Jun gives to her acting, fills the film with light comedy that provides a deceptively fluffy facade.
Audiences will experience amusing “death scenes” because of the lengths Chie goes to, which are, quite frankly, astounding, in order to make her husband communicate to her. It is delightful as whole sets are crafted based on history and movies. Want to see a rendition of Romeo and Juliet? Chie has you covered. Ever wondered what it would be like if Nobunaga was dying in your front room? The girl has a decent reconstruction. More into sci-fi? Chie can teleport from the future. It’s fun and Jun either resists or gets into the swing of things as he alternately plays along and tries to quell his wife’s growing creativity. Audiences will clearly see that Jun is more concerned with maintaining a “normal” relationship where she acts like a conventional wife which shows how he takes her for granted.
Which takes us back to her like of blue moons. The Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki is claimed to have said the ideal Japanese translation for “I love you” is “Tsuki ga tottemo aoi naa” (The moon is so blue tonight). It works on a couple of levels. Saying love is too direct for people who are reserved so the phrase acts as a stand-in and it also means if a couple can admire see the same thing together then it shows they have become one. Chie adheres to this school of thought and it shows her faith in Jun that she sticks around in the hopes that he responds with his love even as her reality becomes a little darker.
Why she doesn’t speak her mind? She shouldn’t need to.
Why she acts the way she does is revealed late in the narrative through flashbacks to root her behaviour in some simple psychology sparked by family tragedy that will repeat and a desire for reassurance and support. It feeds into the overall message of the film: listen to and look carefully at the people around you. Empathise and understand. At least, that is what I read, and when Chie and Jun have their dialogue-less heart-to-heart moment, I was moved by what I saw.
In terms of writing, the script is simple but filled with enough incidents and characters that demonstrate various examples of married life, particularly Jun’s co-worker Soma (Ryohei Otani) and his wife Yuriko (Sumika Nono) who seem to have a nice marriage but are struggling with family issues, and Jun’s boss Kanbara (Kazuyuki Asano) who seems to have a stale marriage but defies expectations.
This is a very televisual style of film and it doesn’t feature much in way of visual invention but it does everything cleanly. Chie’s creativity is fantastic and the scenes are always set in such a way to milk maximum comedic impact from the bizarre situations and Ken Yasuda’s exaggerated reaction shots. He provides a stable centre to Nana Eikura’s eccentric Chie, a cute character who has an even cuter edge considering the height difference with her co-star. When he joins in with her acts it becomes sweet. External locations are well shot so Shizuoka looks and feels like Shizuoka which is where Chie comes from and we can understand her background in a matter of moments while some of the nightlife of Tokyo is captured as well as the staid day-time routines which Chie’s odd behaviour disrupts. The neighbourhood and apartment that Jun and Chie live-in feel fleshed out enough and the side characters have lives of their own that there is depth to the film.
Overall, this is a well-told story that really works because of the performances of the actors and audience members should be able to understand and learn from seeing the amusing misadventures that Chie ropes Jun into.