The Japanese “Happy-Go-Lucky,” writer-director Satoko Yokohama’s “German + Rain” celebrates a heroine who meets life’s many cruelties with stubborn, subversive resilience. Quirky but not cloyingly so, trim DV pic boasts a boldly anti-charismatic perf by Yoshimi Nozaki as Yoshiko, a 16-year-old small-town misfit with dreams of pop stardom and the manga-esque nickname “Gorilla Man.” Low-budget debut feature by twentysomething Yokohama took a runner-up prize in Vancouver’s Dragons and Tigers competition, which should support the deserving helmer in future prospects, if not in bringing the technically cloudy pic to sunny reception worldwide.
Moody protag lives alone in a rundown shack, her mom having died after divorcing Yoshiko’s now-ailing dad. Tooling around on an old bike, the portly girl forgoes school, instead gardening alongside a dishy German boy and giving private music lessons to kids. When a pedophile comes onto her preteen pupils, Yoshiko briskly extorts cash from the physically infirmed perp. As if emulating her heroine, Yokohama remains thoroughly unpredictable in the face of melodrama. One of several weirdly indelible interludes has Yoshiko competing a tad too eagerly in a dodgeball game with whippersnappers half her size.