By Rob Schwartz
Gunjōiro no Tōrimichi
Some parts are heartwarming
July 9, 2015
Recently, there’s been a movement in Japan to produce film on a municipal or prefectural level—this piece is one of the results of these efforts. Set in Gunma Prefecture, the narrative follows Yoshi (Ren Kiriyama) who returns to Ōta City after ten years in Tokyo. He left after a run-in with his father (Takeshi Masu), in which he refused to work at the small family factory, passed down through generations.
Yoshi’s return is greeted with joy from his old mates as well as his unfulfilled crush Kurata (Kiki Sugino), but the family is in crisis. Dad has cancer and the finances of the company are in shambles. Yoshi seems to have a legit shot at making it in the Tokyo music business, but will he leave the family at this time of need?
While the cinematography and pacing are good, the reliance on trite techniques like flashback, sudden tragedy, and obvious symbols, as well as overacting from some of the cast, make this difficult to praise. Some parts are heartwarming, but the flick is trying too hard to be so that the overall effect is lessened. Sugino shines and Kiriyama’s multi-talents are on display, but it’s not quite enough to save this. (105 min)