After School

An amusingly convoluted narrative that brings together equally clueless yakuza, police and semi-innocent bystanders to search for a couple allegedly missing people.

With:
With: Yo Oizumi, Masato Sakai, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Takako Tokiwa, Tomoko Tabata, Masato Ibu, Toshiyuki Kitami, Kei Yamamoto, Samu Uutela.

Wry Nipponese caper flick “After School” is an amusingly convoluted narrative that brings together equally clueless yakuza, police and semi-innocent bystanders to search for a couple allegedly missing people. Not too different from writer-helmer Kenji Uchida’s award-winning 2005 “A Stranger of Mine,” this low-key comedy is likewise modest but ingratiating. Offshore, it could attract some DVD sales and possible remake interest. It was released at home in May.

Goofy school gym instructor Jinno (Yo Oizumi), comparatively suave Kimura (Masato Sakai) and beatifically pregnant Miki (Tomoko Tabata) are an odd platonic menage living in the same Tokyo apartment building, connected by old loyalties not fully revealed until the end. As Miki gives birth — almost during a mad rush to the hospital — Kimura goes missing, and porn-shop employee/sometime private dick Kitazawa (Kuranosuke Sasaki) is hired to find him, as well as the girl recently glimpsed with him, a gangland kingpin’s runaway g.f. He drafts help from the concerned Jinno, though the two operate on quite different planes. Eccentric character roster and slyly humorous approach to what might’ve been played as shoot-’em-up suspense make nicely crafted pic a slow-burning charmer.

After School

Japan

Production: A Groundbreaker, the Klock Work, Tokyo Broadcasting System Pictures, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, Media Factory, PIA, Yahoo Japan, Amuse production. (International sales: TBS Pictures, Tokyo.) Produced by Satoshi Akagi, Hiroshi Ohnishi, Daisuke Ohoka. Executive producer, Makoto Fujimoto. Directed, written by Kenji Uchida.

Crew: Camera (color), Kozo Shibasaki; editor, Shiochi Fushima; music, Kei Haneoka; production designer, Koichi Kanekatsu. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Focus on World Cinema), Aug. 23, 2008. Original title: Afuta sukuru. Running time: 102 MIN.

With: With: Yo Oizumi, Masato Sakai, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Takako Tokiwa, Tomoko Tabata, Masato Ibu, Toshiyuki Kitami, Kei Yamamoto, Samu Uutela.

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