Review: ‘A Good Husband’

A veneer of amusement erodes away to reveal copious guilt and deep regret.

A veneer of amusement erodes away to reveal copious guilt and deep regret in the static Japanese comedy-cum-weepie “The Good Husband.” Adapted from a Nipponese play, the plot also recalls — to helmer Yukisada Isao’s disadvantage — Anthony Minghella’s 1990 feature debut, “Truly, Madly, Deeply.” Local release is skedded for January, and solid distaff auds should bring in strong B.O. and a spike in tissue sales. Pic also may live on in other Asian territories.

Blocked photographer Kitami (Toyokawa Etsushi) is eager for his winsome wife, Sakura (Yakushimaru Hiroko), to go on vacation so he can resume womanizing. But Kitami’s long-desired freedom is not what he anticipated; nor is it as originally presented. Despite cinematic tweaks, the pic never escapes its stodgy legit origins. Hiroko is miscast as the girlish wife and is so unfittingly costumed, it’s hard to imagine how she ever hooked up with a hipster like Toyokawa’s Kitami. Ishibashi Renji gets the lion’s share of the early laughs with his hammy portrayal of the drag queen cleaning lady. Journeyman Yukisada is technically proficient, but the pic reps a serious misstep in an already erratic career. Tech credits are tops.

A Good Husband

Japan

Production

A Toei presentation of a Central Arts production. (International sales: Toei Co., Tokyo.) Produced by Amano Kazuhito, Kunimatsu Tatsuya. Executive producers, Kurosawa Mitsuru, Kinoshita Naoya, Endo Shigeyuki. Directed by Yukisada Isao. Screenplay, Ito Chihiro, based on the play by Nakatani Mayumi.

Crew

Camera (color), Fukumoto Jun; editor, Imai Tsuyoshi; music, Meina Co., Yosui Inoue; production designer, Osamu Yamaguchi. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (Open Cinema), Oct. 11, 2009. Original title: Kondo wa aisaika. Running time: 131 MIN.

With

Toyokawa Etsushi, Yakushimaru Hiroko, Mizukawa Asami, Hamada Gaku, Shirota Yu, Tsuda Kanji, Okunuki Kaoru, Igawa Haruka, Ishibashi Renji.

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