Yoshimitsu Morita’s “Umineko — Inseparable,” based on a bestseller about a woman in love with her husband’s brother, sends mixed messages, tonally. Set, like Hirokazu Koreeda’s evocative “Maborishi,” in the alien environment of a fishing village, pic cheerfully plunges into full-blown meller mode, complete with multiple hysterical climaxes. But the cool distance Morita maintains from his overdrawn characters — the tottering, fragile heroine, the coarse, blustering husband and the sensitive, brooding lover — nearly tips them into caricature, recalling the wicked irony of Morita’s “Family Game.” Teetering between tragedy and absurdity, “Umineko” stands as a disappointing entry in Morita’s already uneven oeuvre.
Pic opens on a quasi-slapstick note when a young woman’s face is shmushed into her birthday cake by her indignant fiance because her dead mother was involved in a scandal. The mother (a luminous, ethereal Misaki Ito) is introduced in flashback in full white-kimonoed wedding regalia. Bygone tale of mismatched parents’ mutual infidelities is messy but not intrinsically tragic, the problems largely stemming from the adulterous couple’s addiction to poetic self-sacrifice. Since neither the characters’ ridiculousness nor their suffering holds sway, the viewer is constantly conflicted, denied even the solace of camp.