Films I Want to See in New York – 6 – Sawako Decides

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Kawa no soko kara konnichi wa / Sawako Decides
Ishii Yuya, Japan
2009, 112 min

Cast: Mitsushima Hikari (Sawako), Endo Masashi (Kenichi), Aihara Kira (Kayoko), Shiga Kotaro (Sawakos Vater Tadao), Iwamatsu Ryo (Nobuo).

To be screened at Japan Cuts Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema (July 1 – 16, 2010)

After five years, five jobs, and five boyfriends, Sawako (Mitsushima Hikari) still has not fully arrived in Tokyo. Her favorite phrases are “can’t be helped” and “working class is why.”

Kenichi (Endo Masashi), a toy designer at the toy company, has determined to live an “eco lifestyle.” Sawako spends evenings with him and his daughter Kayoko (Ahira Kira), while he clumsily knits a sweater vest, baby blue like his own, intended for Sawako. Instead of a good-night kiss at her door, Kenichi asks Sawako for her empty cans to recycle.

In Sawako Decides (literal translation of the Japanese title is “Hello From the River Bed”), we learn the power of a “lower-middling woman” – chu no ge no on-na.

Yuya may have hit on the trope of the decade with his observation that “the image of small shellfish squirming in the riverbed also contains a hopeless gravity that was a perfect fit.” He says his influences are musical even more than cinematic, and I believe him; Sawako Decides is wonderfully paced. And Mitsushima Hikari is an expressive, physically precise comic genius.