Haruko (Megumi) is a young woman busy with her career when suddenly she is thrown back to her childhood and teenage years. Upon receiving the news of her father having dementia, she is confronted with her family’s troubled history, a story defined by abuse and neglect. While her brother and her mother (Miyoka Asada), whom she still lives with, prefer to keep their distance to the man responsible for so much hardship and pain in their lives, Haruko cannot shake the feeling of wanting to re-connect with her father.

Cloudy, Occasionally Sunny” is screening at Japan Cuts 2019

As we see the opening scenes of the film, we hear the voice of Haruko’s father, a metal worker, talking about the work he does, how the particular parts he makes have been designed according to a specific plan. Considering his task is defined by precision, he has obviously applied this work ethic to a much wider context, telling his children to come up with a plan for their lives, as well in order to succeed. In the very first scenes from Haruko’s life and job in the present, we can safely assume that, even though her father has become a distant figure for her, she has taken his wisdom to heart, knowingly or not.

Naturally, “Cloudy, Occasionally Sunny” revolves around these themes of the plans we make for our lives, or rather the designs others have recommended to us. Although this aspect might strike you as simplistic, Motoyuki Itabashi’s treatment of this idea is quite thought-provoking and will likely resonate with audiences. Essentially, like with Megumi’s character, there is the question how much influence these influences of others have on our lives, how much impact they have had and whether we can truly establish the emotional distance from people, a task which becomes increasingly more difficult for Haruko.

One of the most important aspects of the film is, therefore, the performances by the female-led cast of this short. Thanks to the well-written script, especially the scenes between Megumi and Mayako Asada as daughter and mother, establish the unique dynamics of that relationship, their daily routine and how they have defined their lives away from the potential damaging influence of their father/husband.

In the end, “Cloudy, Occasionally Sunny” is an enjoyable, touching dramatic short about family, as well as forgiveness and the plans we make for our lives. Sensitively written and performed, Motoyuki Itibashi has made a very impressive short film which will hopefully be the first step for a longer feature.

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Ever since I watched Takeshi Kitano's "Hana-Bi" for the first time (and many times after that) I have been a cinephile. While much can be said about the technical aspects of film, coming from a small town in Germany, I cherish the notion of art showing its audience something which one does normally avoid, neglect or is unable to see for many different reasons. Often the stories told in films have helped me understand, discover and connect to something new which is a concept I would like to convey in the way I talk and write about films. Thus, I try to include some info on the background of each film as well as a short analysis (without spoilers, of course), an approach which should reflect the context of a work of art no matter what genre, director or cast. In the end, I hope to pass on my joy of watching film and talking about it.