Chronicle of My Mother / わが母の記
Even with the formidable talents of Koji Yakusho (Shall We Dance?) in the lead role of a demanding family patriarch and Kiki Kirin (Still Walking, Zigeunerweisen) as his mother falling into dementia, Chronicle of My Mother goes through the motions of family drama eschewing much emotionality or resonance. Director Masato Harada consciously apes Yasujiro Ozo with his sweet and gentle rendering of 15 years in a family’s life. The changes that a bevy of daughters goes through as they grow up packs the most interest in the movie. What should be the essential drama of Kosuki (Yakusho), a successful author coming to terms with his mother and his abandonment issues that have simultaneously been his major trauma and the source of his popular novels, is curiously played so low key that the viewer never feels it. Harada should be commended for not going for mush, as most contemporary Japanese directors would, but he misses the fine nuances and emotional tenor that a master like Ozu excelled with using similar thematic material.
Originally published in EL Magazine, May 2012.