Naomi Kawase, the acclaimed director of Sweet Bean and Still the Water explores the occasionally fraught world of adoption with her moving drama.
After suffering through a long and unsuccessful series of fertility treatments, Satoko and her husband Kiyokazu make the decision to adopt a child. Six years after adopting Asato, Satoko has quit her job to concentrate fully on her family. They live a peaceful existence until one day a phone call threatens to shatter their happiness. The woman on the other end of the line demands they give her some back.
Kawase’s best-known work has ruminatively considered our place in the world, embracing a spiritualism that has earned the filmmaker a dedicated following. She changes gear here, not just with the presence of a more structured narrative, but also in locating the action in a more urban environment. But her detailing the increasingly fraught relationship between the two mothers, across three distinct acts, nevertheless highlights Kawase’s immersive style of drama, preferring to explore the complexity of her character’s lives than opt for easy judgement.