Elder Parents

Tazuko Makitsubo's 2000 feature is a case study of a middle-aged housewife overburdened with obligations to the older and younger generations. Striving to cope with a dying father, a morose mother, a stubbornly traditional father-in-law, and teenage children, the liberal-minded protagonist receives little support from her husband, who's preoccupied with his career. Her midlife crisis and the ensuing divorce unfold matter-of-factly, the clinical tone occasionally leavened by cutesy humor and some acute observations about family bonds in urban Japan. A preachy conclusion subordinates the feminist message to a plea for greater understanding of the predicament of those who care for the elderly. The acting is mostly stiff, except for Hisako Manda as the woman on the verge. In Japanese with subtitles. 112 min.

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