a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Yoi ga Sametara Uchi ni Kaerou / 酔いがさめたら、うちに帰ろう / Wandering Home

with 2 comments

Tadanobu Asano does his best in this story of alcoholism and recovery, but with a flimsy script and general misdirection he doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of Ray Milland or Jack Lemmon. Based on the autobiographical story of Yukata Kamoshida, director Yoichi Higashi seems to pull any and all punches in regard to the human suffering that lies in the wake of the drink. Instead, there’s a long and ill-paced section highlighting the strange foibles and colorful characters inhabiting the alcoholics’ ward. The scenes leading to Kamoshida’s fall are full of signifiers, but little of great heft. His domestic violence comes off as a dull joke. His increasing decrepitude doesn’t show in Asano’s face or body. And of course, there’s the mandatory sentimental ending. Asano remains a likeable screen presence, but even that amiability is stretched by the cliché of undying support by his ex-wife, manga artist Reiko Saibara (Hiromi Nagasuka). The image of the ever faithful and abused Japanese spouse, even if based on reality in this case, refuses to wither away.

Originally published in EL Magazine, December 2010

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2 Responses

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  1. I so looked forward to this film. Nagasaku is a favorite of mine, seems to elevate every film she’s in. And Asano is always welcome. But, alas. The film is like a holiday greeting card for the most part. Most telling, from your review, is “His increasing decrepitude doesn’t show in Asano’s face or body.” That was an odd play on someone’s part. I felt “The image of the ever faithful and abused Japanese spouse …” was upgraded a little, if not in the writing, at least in little bits in the way Nagasaku played it. Although she did seem called upon to do a few silly things. I felt I could see the incredulity on her face: “Really, you want me to ..?”

    Wholly inexplicable to me were the children, and their unconditional love. I won’t call the film bad, but certainly unsatisfying. I’m not familiar with the director, and he didn’t offer much for me to look any further.

    sitenoise

    June 11, 2011 at 6:38 am

    • I’m not familiar with the director’s other works and nor am I rushing out to become a completist. Around the time this film came out, another one highlighting an alcoholic came out – Bakamono. By no means a good film, at least Hiroki Narimiya breathes a bit of life into his dipsomaniacal character giving a much deeper glimpse into the alcoholic personality than Asano.

      Nicholas Vroman

      June 14, 2011 at 7:48 am


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