“It’s not that easy growing up to be the man you want to be,” says Ryota Shinoda (Hiroshi Abe), a once-promising novelist whose inability to live responsibly—and within his means—has already cost him his wife (Yôko Maki) and potentially his young son, Shingo (Taiyô Yoshizawa), as well. The exploration of that concept provides the latest variation on writer/director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s career-long exploration of the complex entanglements of familial relationships—and one of his best. Abe turns in a wonderful performance as the kind of perpetually-down-on-his-luck hustler that could have played as a cliché, but Kore-eda wraps the character in the history of Ryota’s recently-deceased, equally fiscally imprudent father, to create a portrait of big dreamers facing the real-world consequences of their actions. There’s no earth-shaking drama here, just small heartbreaking moments like the sadness of Ryota’s widowed mother (Kirin Kiki) lamenting “I really can’t understand why things turned out like this.” Kore-eda understands how to extract honesty from the choices that face someone once he acknowledges that the life he imagined for himself has simply become the life he chooses for himself.
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Cast: Hiroshi Abe, Yôko Maki, Kirin Kiki and Taiyô Yoshizawa