Review: ‘The Man Who Wipes Mirrors’

Seisoku Kajita offers a no-frills, almost flat account of a 61-year-old man on a quest to polish all the traffic mirrors in Japan in "The Man Who Wipes Mirrors." Pic provides a "Straight Story" excursion through the countryside, with frequent stops at roadside mirrors. Vaguely pleasant but unclassifiable curio is unlikely to travel far.

Seisoku Kajita offers a no-frills, almost flat account of a 61-year-old man on a quest to polish all the traffic mirrors in Japan in “The Man Who Wipes Mirrors.” Scoring points about old age in a country where a quarter of the population is over 60, pic provides a “Straight Story” excursion through the countryside, with frequent stops at roadside mirrors. High on concept but low on drama, vaguely pleasant but unclassifiable curio is unlikely to travel far.

Depressed after nearly hitting a little girl with his car, erstwhile salaryman Minagawa (Ken Ogata) suddenly takes off on a bicycle with a ladder strapped to it, saying little to his family and less to the viewer. Montages of Minagawa on his traffic safety mission to a repeated carnivalesque musical refrain, are interspersed with scenes of his impact on the world — he is followed by TV news crews and becomes a celebrity. Briefly acquiring a partner, who turns the private pilgrimage into an organized club, Minagawa tools off alone into the sunset, finally joined by his wife, who evidently misses him.

The Man Who Wipes Mirrors

Japan

Production

A Vision Factory, NHK Enterprises 21, Yes Visions, Nihon Skyway, PAL Entertainments presentation of a PAL Entertainments production. Produced by Yukio Takemura, Makoto Ueda, Haruhiko Yoshida, Natsuko Kitani, Takafumi Ohashi. Executive producers, Takashi Kasuga, Haruyoshi Sakai, Isao Takenaka, Hajime Harie, Wataru Suzuki. Directed,written by Seisoku Kajita.

Crew

Camera (color), Ueno Shogo; editor, Seisoku Kajita; music, Akira Senjyu. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Cinema of Asia), Sept. 3, 2003. Running time: 117 MIN.

With

Ken Ogata, Komaki Kurihara, Issa Hentona, Ryoko Kuninaka, Masahiko Tsugawa.
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