Ostensibly a black comedy about the plight of Koreans in modern Japan, “All Under the Moon” tries to cram too much into its taxicab microcosm. Confusion will dominate laughs for offshore auds.
With a glib hauteur somewhere between Toshiro Mifune and Kevin Bacon at their smirkiest, Goro Kishitani makes an appropriately nasty splash as anti-hero Chung Nam, a Japan-born Korean going by the more assimilated name Tadao. Working for a Korean-run cab company — alongside a near-psychopath, a quiet alcoholic and an illegal Iranian, among others — Tadao meets, and tends to dislike, all kinds.
To round things out, he’s not fond of his dragon-lady mother, either, who runs a sleazy nightclub aimed at immigrants. Still, he starts to bring himself out of his funk when mom hires Connie (Ruby Moreno), a pretty Filipina with a mind of her own.
The course of love isn’t smooth, and work gets dicey. No one knows quite what to do, and this includes viewers, who will be intrigued by hints of dissent and ambivalence in seemingly monolithic Japan (the pic’s also known as “Rearview Mirror”), but left cold by the complete lack of anyone substantial to identify with.
Bright, inventive lensing and brassy swing music are entertaining pluses, and veteran TV helmer Yoichi Sai (himself Korean-Japanese) keeps his thesps in smooth motion, especially during the openly comic passages.
But much like the effete cabbie who never knows where he is, even when he’s parked directly in front of Mt. Fuji, “All Under the Moon” is a story that tends to get more and more lost at every turn.