A mother’s love knows no boundaries. This film explores a mother’s love at great lengths but it is more about how human beings cope after a loss of a love one. How do you face the world without that person? How do you move forward carrying with you, memories of their existence? This film attempts to answer these questions in a somewhat elusive way, more interested in feelings and emotions not on actually giving absolute answers.
Writer and director Ryota Nakano explores these themes with another story about terminal illness. Futaba [Rie Miyazawa] is a mother who discovers she only has a few months to live. One of her first goals is to reunite with her missing husband and reopen their bathhouse. She has a daughter, Azumi [Hana Sugisaki], who struggles to stand on her own. Her husband, Kazuhiro, played by Joe Odagiri is an easy-going fellow, obviously not a pillar to rely on. When Futaba discovers about her illness, she is more concerned about the future of her small family than her own shortened life. The mark of a strong-willed woman.
The film is not melodramatic with good amount of humour in between heavy drama. In addition, the humour exists as a natural sentiment – a reflection of everyday life and in no way makes light of the important issue of death. The acting here is superb. Miyazawa delivers a convincing performance of a strong mother facing her family in the midst of tragedy. The young actors also stand out. Hana, convincingly shows us the change in her character from the insecure Hana at the beginning of the film and the strong one towards the end, able to stand on her own. Odagiri as usual delivers his quirky but undeniable screen presence. He is one of those actors with a rare talent to become the character he portrays. Even though a child, Aoi Ito as the misplaced younger daughter Ayuko delivers a moving performance.
In conclusion, watch this film if only to admire the brilliant performances of the young actors. The drama will not turn you off. It’s a convincing portrayal of family love and how each members cope with each other’s loss. A relatable film that touches that soft spot we have for our mothers, or for anyone who have given us the experience of unconditional love. And for anyone of us who missed the love of our parents, this film warms the heart.