DRAMA; 1hr 53min
STARRING: Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase, Kyara Uchida
As simply profound as a haiku, filmmaker Naomi Kawase's adaptation of Durian Sukegawa's 2013 novel is a bittersweet study of pancake maker Sentaro (Nagase) and his transformative relationship with an eccentric 76-year-old woman (Kiki, instantly adorable as Tokue).
The baker is an enclosed kind of guy and his dorayaki — mini pancakes sandwiched around a sweet red bean paste known as an — aren’t setting the neighbourhood on fire, either. Sentaro, who doesn't seem to care much about anything, buys his an commercially, which to Tokue, for whom "an is the soul of a dorayaki," is sacrilege. Turning up out of the blue, Tokue is a strange, giggly old duck and Sentaro only hires her for the tiny shop he stoically manages because, as he admits to high schooler and fellow needy soul Wakana (Uchida), a sample of her an tastes "incredible." But once Tokue has touched his life, he is indelibly changed.
As in the construction of a perfect snack, to speak volumes with little is a delicate art. Into a tiny story of three marginalised people, Kawase weaves an affecting case for acceptance whose layers intensify in the telling.