Childhood obligations are illustrated and motherhood is enshrined in the Japanese meller.

Childhood obligations are illustrated and motherhood is enshrined in the heartstring-tugging Japanese meller “Tokyo Tower: Mom & Me, and Sometimes Dad.” The broadcasting tower and symbol of postwar Japanese economic recovery gets the Empire State’s “Sleepless in Seattle” treatment by becoming a cipher for familial love. Partially due to local star power, pic did socko biz across Japan in April, but attraction will remain a mystery outside Asia.

Based on Lily Franky’s popular autobiography, film tells the story of talented but lazy illustrator Masaya (Joe Odagiri), who leaves his small Kyushu mining town to spend his youth drifting through Tokyo’s boho university scene. Narrative criss-crosses between Masaya’s childhood and adult life as he watches over his cancer-ridden mother’s hospital bed. Well-helmed but deliberately paced, even by Japanese standards, pic relentlessly plays all its sentimental cards about motherhood. Role of the mother is seamlessly shared by mother and daughter thesps Kikikilin and Yayako Uchida, with the elder Kikikilin getting all the juicy contempo cancer scenes. Pic is also blessed with Odagiri’s least affected perf ever, signaling a wider range than previously demonstrated. Tech credits are impressive.

Tokyo Tower: Mom & Me, and Sometimes Dad

Japan

Production

A Shochiku, Nippon Television Network Corporation, Film-makers, Little More presentation of a Tokyo Tower o.b.t.o. Film Partners production. (International sales: Shochiku Co., Tokyo.) Produced by Miyoshi Kikuchi. Executive producers, Seiji Okuda, Shigehiro Nakagawa, Sun Chiapang. Directed by Joji Matsuoka. Screenplay, Suzuki Matsuo, based on the autobiography by Lily Franky.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Norimichi Kasamatsu; editor, Shinichi Fushima; music, Tadashi Ueda; production designer, Mitsuo Harada. Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, June 5, 2007. (In Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 142 MIN.

With

Joe Odagiri, Kikikilin, Yayako Uchida, Takako Matsu, Kaoru Kobayashi.

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