Director: Naomi Kawase
By Kitty Turpin
An (also known as Sweet Bean) is a Japanese drama film that is executed with beauty and simplicity.
The story follows Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase), a middle age man who runs a cupboard sized dorayaki shop. Dorayaki is a well-loved Japanese sweet, with “an” (sweet red bean paste) spread between two small pancakes. The one problem with Sentaro’s business is that he cannot make “an”. When Sentaro advertises for a part time worker, a strange old lady, Tokue (Kirin Kiki), applies for the position, whose “an” is delicious.
Kirin plays her character beautifully. Her attention to Tokue’s odd mannerisms brought a smile to my face, and her strange one-liners (“Look! The trees are waving!”) got the audience laughing. This movie is definitely not a comedy, and the lightness fooled me into a sense of security, leaving me a teary eyed mess by the end.
The movie is executed stunningly – cut scenes of cherry blossom trees serve as a guide to the seasons followed in An.
An is ultimately a tale about finding ones purpose, and questions the acceptance of humanity through the emotional tale of Kirin’s character. It is a classic Japanese film that pulls the heartstrings in all the right places.
An starts showing at Luna Leederville on Thursday 28th April.