Review: ‘Osaka Hamlet’

Shaky familial connections are buoyed by the Bard when an aggrieved Japanese teen deals with his dysfunctional family in the conventional but occasionally moving meller "Osaka Hamlet."

Shaky familial connections are buoyed by the Bard when an aggrieved Japanese teen deals with his dysfunctional family in the conventional but occasionally moving meller “Osaka Hamlet.” Based on a well-known manga by Hiromi Morishita, arthouse pic may garner local interest but some charms will be lost in translation. Fests looking to round out Japanese sidebars may want to look. Local release is unconfirmed at this time.

Thuggish Japanese schoolboy, Yukio (Naoyuki Morita) is distraught to find his dead father replaced by a mysterious uncle (Ittoku Kishibe). A well-meaning teacher gives Yukio a copy of “Hamlet,” thinking the boy might relate, but this only intensifies the teen’s anguish. Unlike only child Hamlet, Yukio sees he’s not the only one suffering, as his older brother, Masashi (Masahiro Hisano), begins an awkward romance with a twentysomething woman and his younger brother, Hasanori (Kanpei Hazama), starts cross-dressing. Conversely, scenes between Kishibe and tyke Hazama provide a loving atmosphere Shakespeare’s hero sorely needed. Helming is ordinary, bordering on static; perfs are engaging, but Morita’s finest moment will be lost on those unfamiliar with Osaka’s pungent dialect. Tech credits are standard for Nipponese indies.

Osaka Hamlet

Japan

Production

An ArtPort production. (International sales: ArtPort, Tokyo.) Produced by Hidehiro Ito, Masatsugu Asahi, Junichi Matsushita. Directed, edited by Fujiro Mitsuishi. Screenplay, Tetsuya Oishi, based on the manga by Hiromi Morishita.

Crew

Camera (color), Masami Inomoto; music, Koji Endo. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Japanese Eyes), Oct. 20, 2008. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Keiko Matsuzaka, Ittoku Kishibe, Naoyuki Morita, Masahiro Hisano, Natsuki Kato, Manami Honjo, Kanpei Hazama.
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