Love is blind and charm is in abundance in the old-fashioned Nipponese comedy-romance “My Darling of the Mountains — Tokuichi in Love.” While helmer Katsuhito Ishii (“The Taste of Tea,” “Funky Forest”) has always been hard to pin down, this gently paced remake of Hiroshi Shimizu’s 1938 classic “The Masseuses and a Woman” reps a complete U-turn from his usual surrealism-laced work. Pic garnered respectable domestic biz last May; fests seeking enjoyable light fare will want a look, and this effort may be useful for rounding out Japanese retrospectives.
Multistrand yarn features two itinerant blind masseurs, Tokuichi (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi) and Fuku (Ryo Kase), whose powers of perception impress tourists at a summer health resort. Guests include youth hiking groups, a boy and his uncle, and an unidentified thief, but Tokuichi is fixated on an alluring woman (Maiko) from Tokyo. Ishii has set himself some conservative helming limitations, but strikes a rich vein within those constraints that mark this, even to the uninitiated, as homage. Sight gags (in both senses of the phrase) generate substantial laffs; semi-theatrical acting recalls the post-silent era. Soundstage and authentic Japanese countryside locations both provide visual delight.
— Russell Edwards