Cinema Thicker Than Water (15) 103 minutes

Screened as part of The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2019

Gripping drama exposing the turbulent relationships between two pairs of siblings as they grapple with one another like cats and dogs – or, to be more faithful to the original Japanese title, like ‘dogs and monkeys’. Kazunari (Masataka Kubota) has his life as an upstanding office worker thrown into turmoil when his violent ex-con brother (Hirofumi Arai) unexpectedly shows up on his doorstep. Meanwhile, Yuria (Keiko Enoue), a woman portrayed as reliable but conventionally unattractive, juggles the responsibility of running the family print shop with taking care of her ailing father. Her younger sister Mako (Miwako Kakei) is a complete antithesis; charming and ditzy, she flouts all duties in favour of flirtations and impressing on everyone her status as a ‘high-profile’ actress. Entertainingly intersected at various points, the two narratives – complete with interspersed slapstick – delineate the rising tensions among the siblings which soon are ready to overflow.

The latest offering from Himeanole director, Keisuke Yoshidathis work is based on his original script and shines an expository light onto the perpetual dichotomy of sibling rivalry and filial love.

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2019 features thoughtfully selected works, all focusing on this theme in one way or another. As the conventional binaries defining what it means to love continually give way to new understandings of this sweeping emotion, so too does this year’s curation aim to provide insights into a wider context of love in Japanese society.

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