June 5, 2018
When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead
Based on a real life question
By Rob Schwartz
If you’re looking for a bizarre origin for a feature film, this movie may be for you. In 2010, a question about marriage went viral on Yahoo! Japan. A husband asked users how to deal with his wife who was repeatedly playing dead upon his return home from work. Its popularity led to a vocaloid song (a voice synthesizer software used by singers, such as virtual idol Hatsune Miku). The song in turn led to a book, a comic book and you guessed it, a feature film, which had its world premiere at the Okinawa International Movie Festival this April.
Such a bizarre story, not to mention the notably drawn out name, might give one pause. But rest assured, the film is funny and engaging. The story follows Jun (Ken Yasuda), a typical salaryman on his second marriage. Nearing their third anniversary everything is fine with the married couple, until one day he returns home to find his wife Chie (Nana Eikura) stabbed to death. Just as he starts to freak out she giggles, the whole thing is a set up. Relieved, he thinks nothing of it and goes back to living life. But a pattern begins. Every time Jun returns from work Chie has rigged up a more elaborate death scenario. A gunshot wound, an arrow to the head, a crocodile attack—they get to be more like full-blown cosplay stagings than simple deaths.
Jun is stumped. Why does Chie find it necessary to recreate her death all the time? What is missing from their marriage? The plot delves into Chie’s childhood being raised by a single father, needing to escape into the world of books and art, and her personal foibles. The answers lie in Chie’s unique way of expressing herself and her view of the world.
What starts out as a silly romantic comedy develops into an unusual examination of a personality and relationships. The film even throws a more “normal” couple into the mix, a co-worker and officemate of Jun’s for a comparative study. But as the pic insightfully shows, normal doesn’t necessarily equal happy. That couple quarrels and ends up splitting while Jun and Chie continue to examine how they relate and make new discoveries about one another. The flick is humorous and entertaining with its wild death scenarios, but also offers food for thought about relationships and how in marriage one-size definitely does not fit all.
(Japanese title: Ie ni kaeru to tsuma ga kanarazu shindafuri o shite imasu; 115 min.)