Au revoir l’ete / Hotori no Sakuko / ほとりの朔子
Koji Fukada tries to channel Rohmer with mixed results in his new feature, Au revoir l’ete. Young Sakuko (Fumi Nikaido) goes to spend an idyllic summer with her aunt, Mikie (Mayu Tsuruta), who’s house sitting for her sister in a beachside town. Sakuko’s 19 and trying to decide what next to do in her life. As the summer progresses, she meets a shy teen-age love interest, Takashi (Taiga) and observes the duplicitous sexual shenanigans of the adults that cross her life in this small town. Where Rohmer would slyly implant the moral conundrums of his characters into their souls and allow the issues to expand with his seeming light dramas, Fukuda doesn’t dig too deep. Au revoir l’ete, as likeable as it is, is more of a triumph of style over substance. A crack troupe of actors add some liveliness to the proceedings – including the very talented Kanji Furitachi as the manager of a business/love hotel – but character dead ends and lack of any dramatic arcs leave Fukada’s exercise not just light, but flat.
Originally published in EL Magazine, January, 2014.