Japanese writer-director Naomi Kawase has crafted a poignant tale about a middle-aged man (Masatoshi Nagase) whose small dorayaki bakery is reinvigorated after he reluctantly hires an elderly woman (Kirin Kiki) for her culinary skills. This 2015 drama follows their increasingly tender friendship, not to mention the making of her delicious sweet red-bean paste, but some of the narrative elegance is lost when neighborhood gossip reveals that she has leprosy, which threatens the future of the bakery. There's also a subplot involving a schoolgirl (Kyara Uchida) who frequents the shop, but it sometimes feels out of place given how peripheral she is to the main relationship. Ultimately Kawase is more interested in charting emotional and sensory landscapes than in thinking through any narrative thread, yet there's something to be said for the movie's sincerity and simple beauty. In Japanese with subtitles.
Director: Naomi Kawase
Producer: Masa Sawada, Koichiro Fukushima and Yoshito Oyama
Cast: Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase, Kyara Uchida, Miyoko Asada, Etsuko Ichihara and Miki Mizuno