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Movie Monday – Sweet Bean by Naomi Kawase

Last Friday, I decided to participate in a weekly themed- post which was the Friday Favorites. Yesterday, while I was in the church attending my then future god-daughter’s Christening, an idea of creating my own themed post suddenly crossed my mind. I really enjoyed participating in Friday Favorites so I decided to participate or should I say, initiate another one which I am calling Movie Monday.

Of all things why movie? Well, that day, I was scheduled to participate in the 2017 Japanese Film Festival or EIGASAI and the idea was locked in after I watched the movie. You will know more below.

For this week, I am going to feature Sweet Bean, a Japanese drama film directed by Naomi Kawase.

Movie Monday #1

Movie Monday | Blushing Geek

Sweet Bean  (Japanese: あん, Hepburn: An)
Directed and Screenplay by: Naomi Kawase
Based on: An by Durian Sekegawa
Release Date: May 14, 2015 (Cannes), May 30, 2015 (Japan)
Running Time: 113 minutes
Language: Japanese

Sweet Bean is a delicious red bean paste, the sweet heart of the dorayaki pancakes that Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase) sells from his little bakery to a small but loyal clientele. Absorbed in sad memories and distant thoughts, Sentaro cooks with skill but without enthusiasm. When seventy-six-year-old Tokue (Kirin Kiki) responds to his ad for an assistant and cheerfully offers to work for a ridiculously low wage, Sentaro is skeptical about the eccentric old lady’s ability to endure the long hours. But when she shows up early one morning and reveals to him the secret to the perfect sweet bean paste, Sentaro agrees to take her on. With Tokue’s new home cooked sweet bean paste recipe, Sentaro’s business begins to flourish, but Tokue is afflicted with an illness that, once revealed, drives her into isolation once again.

The movie Sweet Bean was part of the 20 movies for the 2017 Japanese Film Festival (EIGASAI) to be shown here in the Philippines and I understand why now. It wasn’t really a perfect movie for me as I have some concerns about the angle of the shots; like the one they took  from the back of the actors, which really kind of reminds me of a suspense or horror movies, like one moment you’re alone and the next there’s a ghost or a killer’s hand going to tap you in the shoulder. And I’m pretty sure it’s not just me because my friend and companion at that time, Janine, also noticed the angles and asked me if it’s going to be a suspense movie. If you haven’t know yet, both of us share the same fascination with suspense, horror, thriller and any movie that sheds blood. But I’ve watched the trailer of Sweet Bean a few ago and I know it’s not going to be suspense but a drama movie that will sure left me teary eyed.

I’m always a cry baby, if the story is really emotional, especially if it involves family, then expect a tear from me because I will definitely cry. And for this story? I cried, but I tried to hide it as I don’t want to be a target of teasing from my friend, haha. And as her story, she told me that there were quite a number of viewers that were crying too (she’s always very observant, haha).

As you can read on the sypnosis above, this story revolves around food but after an old lady named, Tokue came in, it then also talked about the disease that was feared in Japan, Hansen’s disease or also most commonly known as leprosy. I really don’t want to be a bummer but I can’t seem to  zip my mouth about it. The government in Japan isolate these people that are suffering from the disease thus living away from the civilization and can only associate with their fellow patients. They are also not allowed to have children! These poor people were abandoned by their own family and Tokue’s story on how she got there really tugged my heart. It was just so sad how it turned out for her.

One day while Tokue was in her daily walk, she came into a dorayaki shop and saw the gloomy baker and then decided to apply as his assistant. Age discrimination is common in Japan so it wasn’t really a surprised that she got rejected but she’s very persisten until she brought him her home cooked bean paste. After she was hired, the business was booming until a rumor was spread which led her to go into isolation again.

Slowly, she was able to change the life of the baker as well as the young student that comes to the shop everyday. The two of them visits Tokue but on their second visit, they were surprised to found out about her death. The part where Tokue’s friend was handing the things she left for them was very heartbreaking. I cried again after that. You see, despite of what she’s experiencing, Tokue has a way of making other people happy. If you’re asking for some evidence, then you’ll be greeted with the laugh from the audience in a full house theater yesterday.

I guess the only concern I got from this movie was the angles of the shots, I’m not professional but I have some preferred angles so I guess that’s only me and some few people’s concern. Overall, this movie was a very inspirational story of not just a leprosy patient but of a man who’s not living a happy life. The ending was very simple but I understand what it’s trying to portray.

If you’re a movie enthusiast, then you may want to check out Sweet Bean by Naomi Kawase.

Movie Monday – Sweet Bean by Naomi Kawase | Blushing Geek

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