MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 29, 2021: TRUE MOTHERS

Motherhood — in all its complexity — is at the heart of Naomi Kawase’s drama True Mothers, which tells the intertwined stories of Hikari Katakura (Aju Makita) and Satoko Kurihara (Hiromi Nagasaku). Their circumstances are very different, but they both fiercely love the same little boy, and that love ultimately helps each better understand the other.

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TRUE MOTHERS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

As someone who was given up for adoption as an infant, True Mothers couldn’t help but touch my heart and souL. What most got to me about Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase’s touching drama about a well-off Tokyo couple with an adopted 5-year-old son were the two mothers at the center of the story. The message that matters? That maternal love can come in many forms.

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TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH – Review by Diane Carson

Seldom do films have as significant a catalyst as Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s beguiling To the Ends of the Earth. Commissioned to celebrate twenty-five years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Uzbekistan and the seventy year anniversary of the gorgeous Navoi Theater, the story takes place in and around Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, as a Japanese TV crew gathers footage.

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BRIGHT FUTURE – Review by Diane Carson

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a sly director, relating simple stories, part reality and part fantasy, with a straightforward approach, yet embedding astute social commentary in narrative details, He does this exceptionally well Bright Future set in present-day Tokyo by telling a meandering tale that reveals the many reasons for the central character’s aimlessness.

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TRUE MOTHERS (TIFF20) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

True Mothers is first and foremost a movie about feeling in every sense of the word. Naomi Kawase’s emphasis on ‘feeling’ is harmonized as physical and emotional; the film is punctuated by a steady stream of close ups of hands, highlighting their gestural capacity to communicate complex feelings without words, but also to connection with another person through touch.

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UNDER THE OPEN SKY (TIFF20) – Review by Alaxendra Heller-Nicholas

This film is unambiguous in its status as a social issues melodrama, with all the pros and cons that combination implies. But at its heart is Koji Yakusho’s moving performance. Under the Open Sky may not be the most original film of the year, but it is undeniably touching, due in large part to the combination of director Miwa Nishikawa and actor Kôji Yakusho’s empathy for complex characters.

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SHOPLIFTERS – Review by Marietta Steinhart (Guest Post)

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters is a tender, strangely powerful and sad exploration of what makes a real family and implies that we often find true compassion among the strangers we encounter in the world. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, claimed the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film at Palm Springs International Film Festival and is nominated for a best foreign-language film Oscar.

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