a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Gama no Abura / ガマの油 / Toad’s Oil

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Koji Yakusho (star of Shall We Dance and Babel) makes his directoral debut with Gama no Abura. It’s a smart debut effort, carefully walking the line between lightness and the heaviness that’s at its heart. Yakusho, himself plays the lead role of an eccentric, manic day trader, whose son (played by teen heartthrob, Eita) gets hit by a car, goes into a coma and then proceeds to die about a third of the way into the film. The film then jumps into a gently absurd and genuinely touching tale of how he, the mother, the girlfriend and best male friend deal with the sad loss. Yakusho’s comedic touch takes details of a dark subject and shines a fresh light on them. His inability to tell the young girlfriend of his son’s death, a wild slapstick sequence fighting off a wild bear, the loving look he gives to the character’s coping mechanisms are among the many sweet set pieces that show a heartfelt and honest appreciation of life – and how we all deal with loss.

Originally published in EL Magazine, June 2009

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Written by Nicholas Vroman

June 1, 2009 at 12:17 am

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