The battle with the booze gets watered-down, whimsical treatment in Japanese rehab dramedy "Wandering Home," a disappointing effort from vet helmer Yoichi Higashi ("Village of Dreams") about a photographer's alcohol dependency.

The battle with the booze gets watered-down, whimsical treatment in Japanese rehab dramedy “Wandering Home,” a disappointing effort from vet helmer Yoichi Higashi (“Village of Dreams”) about a photographer’s alcohol dependency. Indie favorite Todanobu Asano is out of his emotional depth as the lead, and not up to the script’s comic challenges, but his name may still draw local and fest auds. Release is skedded for December.

Based on an autobiographical comic novel by photojournalist Yutaka Kamoshida, pic details the downward slide of former war-zone snapper Yasu Tsukahara (Asano) as he ruins his life and liver. Despite a grisly, early episode in which Yasu vomits blood, the yarn rarely takes its subject seriously; whatever the source material’s comic worth, the script’s lighthearted treatment of the corridors of rehab is incongruous at best. Only scenes involving paintings created by the protag’s manga-artist wife (Hiromi Nagasaku) have any real sense of poignancy. The whole ill-conceived project looks as if it were carelessly cranked out, with pedestrian direction and lensing as anemic as the bloodless perfs, doing nothing to generate visual interest. Tech credits are adequate.

Wandering Home

Japan

Production

A Bitters End release of a Siglo, VAP, Bitters End production. (International sales: Bitters End, Tokyo.) Produced by Hiroki Ohwada, Yujai Sadai, Mitsuru Oshima. Directed, written, edited by Yoichi Higashi, based on the novel by Yutaka Kamoshida.

Crew

Camera (color), Shinji Kugimaya; music, Kiyoshiro Imawano; production designer, Toshihiro Isomi. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival, Oct. 26, 2010. Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Tadanobu Asano, Hiromi Nagasaku, Yoshiko Kayama, Yosuke Fujioka, Kurea Mori, Mikako Ichikawa, Go Riju, Masahiro Komoto, Makiko Watanabe, Mari Nishio.
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