Japan, 2015, 113 min, 2K DCP, Dir. Naomi Kawase, Not Rated, Japanese with English Subtitles, Kino Lorber
"The movie, beautifully shot and acted, earns its ultimate sense of hope by confronting real heartbreak head-on, and with compassion." - Glenn Kenny, New York Times
Sentaro runs a small bakery that serves dorayakis - pastries filled with sweet red bean paste. When an old lady, Tokue, offers to help in the kitchen he reluctantly accepts. But Tokue proves to have magic in her hands when it comes to making sweet red bean paste. Thanks to her recipe, the little business soon flourishes. With time, Sentaro and Tokue will open their hearts to reveal old wounds. Director Naomi Kawase is one of Japan's most distinctive stylists. Her new film - the first in traditional Japanese mode - is a graceful ode to the invisible essence of existence - to the beauty and joy we can discover once we learn to listen to nature and feel the life that courses through and all around us. Like her character, Tokue, veteran actress Kirin Kiki has struggled with daunting personal adversity. The role of taciturn loner Sentaro comes naturally to Masatoshi Nagase, last seen stateside as the cooler-than-thou Elvis fan on a Memphis pilgrimage in Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train. Beautifully shot and quietly moving, Sweet Bean is a humble masterpiece from a singularly accomplished filmmaker.