a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Bokutachi no kazoku / ぼくたちの家族

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bokutachiYuya Ishii’s Bokutachi no kazoku begins with a simple premise. 60-year old Reiko (Mieko Harada) suddenly starts turning dingy. A visit to the doctor reveals a brain tumor and short lease left on life. Her husband Atsuaki (Kyozo Nagatsuka) and two sons, Kousuke (Satoshi Tsumabuki) and Shunpie (Sosuke Ikematsu) are suddenly thrust into dealing with the situation – and themselves and their family relationship. With a particularly sensitive hand, Ishii shows the more stereotypical occluded side of Japanese family relationships (among men in particular) and at the more subtle undercurrents of how these relationships are tested and how they function under stress. It’s fitting that the title of the film uses “bokutachi” – a male version of “we” – to describe “our” family. The three male leads, Nagatsuka in particular, work the silence and the implicit understandings and misunderstandings of male communication – and the lack of it. The social constructs and constrictions of their world are finely limned. Mom, though, unburdened by disease, becomes a bit too homily-rific- perhaps a necessary counter to her family of boys.

Originally published in EL Magazine, May 2014.

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