Director: Yoji Yamada
Cast: Takuya Kimura, Rei Dan, Takashi Sasano
The film made its debut as the opening film for Tokyo International Film Festival 2006, and was screened in Berlin Film Festival 2007.
It is the 3rd film by Yoji Yamada based on Shuhei Fujisawa's novels
- The Twilight Samurai (2002)
- The Hidden Blade (2004)
- Love and Honor (2007)
It was nominated for several awards in Japan Academy Award 2006
The official website (in Japanese)
Based on the novel by Shuhei Fujisawa, the film introduces us to yet another "job" of some Samurai. Shinnojo Mimura (Takuya Kimura) is a food taster. It is not as "glamorous" a job as one would like to think, so he has his dreams -- of teaching martial arts to children, regardless of class and status (a subtle theme in the film, besides love and honor). Predictably, something will go wrong. Indeed. He is poisoned, and on recovery, he loses his eyesight. What does that spell of a proud and young Samurai? What will become of his family (basically him and his wife)? What will become of his status and his future?
Although I have never understood why many people are mad over Takuya Kimura (he has been voted favorite actor for Japan's TV drama for many years; he is also a singer in SMAP), I have to admit that he carried his role rather well. Most audience could not help but laugh/chuckle at the many humorous moments/lines delivered by him. You have to credit the Japanese for this. Unlike many "slapsticks" jokes we are accustomed to (esp. films that sell themselves as comedies), the several funny moments are so "down to earth". We are laughing at scenes/people we are so familiar with ... so often around us in our daily life.
I thought another actor that deserves mention (seldom read about him in most reviews) is the housekeeper. He does not try too hard to be funny or comical. Yet, he is one of the characters that will always make the audience laugh ... * clap *
Compared to other mainstream movies, the pace is not too fast. So, one has to be patient when watching it ... savoring it slowly ... But do not worry, the music always sounds at the right time to stir our emotions ...
If I could change one thing, it would be the ENDING ...
* MAJOR SPOILER *
I know it is based on a novel. BUT frankly (and naughtily), if I were the director, I would not have opted for such a "merry" ending ... Instead, I would have adopted a much sadder ending. As all the audience were rooting for the reunion of the couple, I would rather choose to dismay the audience by having an unknown kitchen girl entering ... and have all the audience feel the loss ... something gone is gone forever ... or alternatively, I would depict the kitchen girl's back without revealing her real identity ... making the audience wonder whether she is indeed the wife or someone else ... and the audience simply have to leave the theater with that sense of loss and uncertainty ... hee hee
* END OF MAJOR SPOILER *
Recommended. Despite its simple plot (and at times, predictability), I actually enjoyed the film. It does not try to be too "artistic (which is often confounded with being too "cryptic" or too "multi-layered" or open to too many "interpretations"). Instead, I thought it got its point across reasonably well. At least at the end, we feel for the characters ...
PS: At the Tokyo International Film Festival, Yamada explained the difficulty he faced in translating the Japanese title ... "ichibun" ... "The word describes hope, love, dream, dignity and all of the basic value in human's life. My staff later told me that 'love and honor' is the right expression."