This medical drama made its world premiere at the 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival in the big-budget/commercial-oriented special screenings section. This category caters to overblown, mainstream Japanese melodramas, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that Sukuitai was generally (not always) understated and well done.

Prominent Japanese director Seijiro Koyama was brought on board to guide the project between fiction and fact, as the story is based on reportage about Tohoku earthquake survivors and incorporates real stories. Teiichi (Tomokazu Miura), a doctor, and his anesthesiologist wife, Takako, (Kyoka Suzuki) close down their medical center to move to the disaster area to offer help. Teiichi runs a small clinic while Takako takes a job at a Sendai hospital—and they become intimately involved with the lives of the affected, especially the elderly.

The flick draws you in as it follows stories around both spouses. Takako must encourage a young anesthesiologist who has lost her nerve after a personal tragedy. The nurse at Teiichi’s clinic offers an interesting subplot and Teiichi’s efforts to defend the community yet another. There’s enough realism to balance out the melodrama and give a taste of what the survivors have to deal with. Worth watching. English title: Until the Day Comes. (110 min)