Daihachi Yoshida’s debut is based on the homonymous novel by Yukiko Motoya and presents a great mixture of family drama, black comedy and teenage action that resulted in the award for Best New Director at the 29th Yokohama Film Festival among a plethora of other awards from the cast
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The story revolves around three siblings, and the spouse of one of that siblings, who are forced to face their past after their parents’ death and the return of their older sister, Sumika. The latter proves from the beginning how spoiled she is, making it clear that the sole reason for her return is to receive her cut from the will, in order to continue financing her, mostly unsuccessful, acting career. The brother, Shinji, who works as a woodcutter, explains that the family is actually broke and that they cannot continue financing her. Sumika, not having any alternative, decides to stay.
The younger sister, Kyomi, has a genuine talent for manga drawing, although she seems to have quit and is the constant object of bullying by her sister. Somewhere between all that resides Shinji’s spouse, Machiko, an orphan who got married and moved to the countryside from Tokyo, in search for a simple, daily family life. Now though, she finds herself in the middle of family tension, incapable of helping in any way apart from keeping her inbred kindness. As the story progresses, a plethora of past family secrets are revealed.
Daihachi Yoshida pens and directs a film whose strongest point is the presentation of so many dissimilar characters, although all of which are members of the same family and have to interact within the same environment. The fact that all of them seem to switch in the roles of the victim and perpetrator and vice versa is another trait, as it highlights human nature, since no one is completely good or completely evil (probably).
Through this setting, Yoshida manages to present a number of social comments, including rural depopulation, domestic violence, the financial and social difficulties of rural life, show business, the felonry, etc.
Accordingly difficult is the depiction of the various genres we referred to in the prologue. Yoshida, however, manages to retain an extremely difficult balance among all of the aforementioned themes, producing a movie, neither very “light” nor exceedingly “heavy”, that remains entertaining throughout its duration. I cherished particularly the fact that he presented the flashback of what has happened in the past early in the film, not letting the character’s behaviour seem unjustified.
Shihi Ato’s cinematography is splendid, as he depicts the rural and bucolic setting of the film, in combination with the manga-like color intensity that dominates the movie. Kumi Okada’s editing is also very good, retaining the relatively fast pace of the film, and connecting the different episodes harmonically.
The acting in the film is on a very high level. Erika Sato is impressive as Sumika, a woman who seems to be full of negative characteristics. In that fashion, she is spoiled, constantly having illogical demands, cunning, rage explosions, violence towards other members of the family, prostitution, mafia connections etc. Occasionally, she presents some of these elements through a comical note, following the general motif of the film. Actually, she steals the show from the first moment she appears on screen, in combination with her impressive looks
Hiromi Nagasaku plays Machiko, the exact opposite of Sumika. She is kind to the point of servility, gullible to the point of total naivety, and has a permanent will to stand in the middle of all family fights to stop them. In essence, she is the main representative of the comical aspect of the film, although with a dose of bitterness, that appears in very few occasions, however. Aimi Satsugava is great as the bullied bookworm, Kyomi, and Masatoshi Nagashe is functionable as Shinji.
“Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers!” is a very entertaining film, with a great pace, interesting characters, and frequent turns from comedy to drama that retain the interest for the whole of its duration