Life might be precious and sweet, but it doesn't feel short in the Japanese family melodrama "My Grandma."

Life might be precious and sweet, but it doesn’t feel short in the Japanese family melodrama “My Grandma.” Vehicle for minor Akira Kurosawa thesping alum Kin Sugai tugs at the heartstrings with gusto and sporadically delivers good-natured laughs, but could benefit from a hefty trim to prevent audience affection from dissipating. After mild local B.O., pic will likely follow the commercial route of 2006’s similar-themed “Gabai Granny” into Taiwan. Other options are limited to wholesome-minded fests.

Home-design sales rep Tomohiro Murata (Kenichi Okamoto) realizes he’s neglecting his family when he tries selling a bigger house to a client who wants to leave her father-in-law behind. Well-conceived yarn drifts between Tomohiro’s contempo day-to-day life and flashbacks of his own grandparents, but is marred by over-generous dollops of sentimentality. Western auds will feel the pic overstays its welcome by several reels, though the penultimate scene delivers a surprising emotional wallop. Perfs are strong, but the film belongs to commanding 82-year-old thesp Sugai in the tiular role. Hideo Sakaki’s functional helming is doggedly faithful to the script he co-wrote with Takamasa Kameishi. Flat lensing is more brightly lit than the Japanese indie norm.

My Grandma

Japan

Production

A Kinoshita Management production. (International sales: Kinoshita Management, Tokyo.) Produced by Yasuhiro Kawakami. Executive producer, Naoya Kinoshita. Directed by Hideo Sakaki. Screenplay, Sakaki, Takamasa Kameishi, based on a story by Mitsuru Nakamura.

Crew

Camera (color), Kouzou Miyagawa; editors, Hideki Seino, Hideo Sakaki; music, Izumi Sakaki; production designer, Shinpei Inoue. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Japanese Eyes), Oct. 21, 2008. Original title: Boku no obachan. Running time: 123 MIN.

With

Kin Sugai, Kenichi Okamoto, Toshiro Yanagiba, Hideko Hara, Sadao Abe.

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