Thicker Than Water 犬猿 Director: Keisuke Yoshida (2018)

Thicker Than Water   Kenen Film Poster

犬猿 Kenen

Release Date: February 10th, 2018

Duration: 106 mins.

Director: Keisuke Yoshida

Writer: Keisuke Yoshida (Screenplay),

Starring: Keiko Enoue, Miwako Kakei, Masataka Kubota, Hirofumi Arai, Ryohei Abe, Aisa Takeuchi, Katsuya Kobayashi, Takenori Goto,

Website IMDB

You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family, the old saying goes, and the torture of being related to someone you despise is mined for material by Keisuke Yoshida. Using an original script he wrote, he misanthropically pairs two sets of unhappy siblings with each other for a miserable time.

The film takes place in a small town and zeroes in on the small lives of two sets of siblings who are stuck with each other. First there are two sisters, the eldest being the intelligent, hard-working, and homely Yuria Ikuno (Keiko Enoue) who has taken on the responsibility of running her family’s small printing company while her younger, prettier and ditsier sister Mako (Miwako Kakei) shirks work and pursues movie stardom. Each resents the other and shows it with a constant stream of passive-aggressive behaviour like nasty put-downs based on looks and brains. 

For the two sisters are two brothers whose relationship is equally calamitous, though more physically violent. The youngest brother, a polite and diligent office worker named Kazunari Kanayama (Masataka Kubota), finds his life, his home, and his bank account invaded by his rough-hewn older brother Takuji (disgraced actor Hirofumi Arai) who has just finished a prison sentence for armed robbery. Kazunari’s feels like his lifelong position as his older brother’s doormat is reinstated and the timid young man chafes at the indignity of being host and hostage to potential criminal activities.

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My Little Sweet Pea 麦子さんと (2013)

My Little Sweet Pea                       With Mugiko Film Poster       

Japanese Title:  麦子さんと

Romaji: Mugiko-san to

Release Date: December 21st, 2013

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Keisuke Yoshida

Writer: Keisuke Yoshida, Ryo Nishihara (Screenplay),

Starring: Maki Horikita, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kimiko Yo, Sayaka Tashiro, Amane Okayama, Eri Fuse, Yoichi Nukumizu

Japan has always been good for films about women. It is thematic territory so rich in stories that there are genres such as the haha-mono (mother story). These are films that follow a specific formula where a mother figure endures a hard life and sacrifices herself for her (often ungrateful) family. Her suffering comes into focus in a teary-eyed ending where everybody cries and repents their actions, expressing the desire to change. Specific examples Keisuke Kinoshita’s tragic and bitter Nihon no Higeki (1953) and Yasuhiro Ozu’s The Only Son (1936), two films guaranteed to make an audience shed many tears of sadness. For a lighter one, try The Wolf Children (2012) which is about the struggles of a single mother with two unique kids (you will still shed tears but happy ones). My Little Sweet Pea falls into this genre but is different because it focusses on the children’s realisation of their mother’s sacrifice rather than the parent’s travails. 

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