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MOVIE REVIEW

Honey and chrysanthemums will never be the same after ‘Kakekomi’


The only downside to watching "Kakekomi" is being unable to look at a Chrysanthemum the same way again. Otherwise, this period film is a cheerful watch.

Japan in the Edo period is dazzling—in bloom in Spring or covered in snow—and the attention to detail of the costume and makeup department is impressive.

Actress Hikari Mitsushima as the concubine Ogin was captivating, black teeth and all.

The temple at Tokei-ji
The temple at Tokei-ji
 

All the visuals aside, the story itself is a curious one. Ogin, along with Jogo (played by Erika Toda) and Yuu Togasaki (Rina Uchiyama) flee to Tokei-ji, a temple that offers shelter to women fleeing from their husbands.

The place is real and it remained opened until around 1873, yielding to the Court of Justice.

Over 2,000 women who wanted to divorce their husbands found sanctuary in the temple and while there are heartbreaking stories, the movie focuses on hope.

 Ogin, played by Hikari Mitsushima, dreams of being a fleeting flower
Ogin, played by Hikari Mitsushima, dreams of being a fleeting flower

 

Ogin, Jogo, and Yuu exhibit distinct strengths, a small triumph in a world where movies continue to fail the Bechdel Test.

They're all tough in their own right and "Kakekomi" refrains from hinting that being skilled with the sword is better than dreaming of being a fleeting flower. The three women may have retreated to a temple, but within its walls is freedom—the only thing that they really want anyway.

The scene where Jogo insists that she wants to be at the lowest rank at the inn and temple drives this point home early on.

She doesn't want to give up her chores and be a princess. She just doesn't want to be kicked, pushed, and slapped anymore.

Yuu suffered more, but the trauma is contained in one frame that lingers just long enough.

This is not the story of the horror, but, again, of hope.

The women will not be defined by their scars. Their lives will be shaped by the kindness of the people around them.

Jogo and Ogin head up the temple
Jogo and Ogin head up the temple

 

Though powered by an inspired performance from the entire cast, it's hard to pin "Kakekomi" as a drama.

To call it a comedy is rather inaccurate as well, however, be advised that it is infused with hilarious sequences.

"Kakekomi" is puff-pastry. Light and filled with delicately made layers. Quite delicious and filling, too.  — VVP, GMA News

"Kakekomi" is part of Eiga Sai: The Japanese Film Festival 2016. A director's talk will be conducted after the July 9 screening (7:00 pm) at the Shang Cineplex, Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong City.

"Kakekomi" will be screened again on July 15 (1:00 pm, Friday) and July 16 (7:00 pm, Saturday). For the complete schedule of the Eiga Sai screenings, visit jgmo.org.ph. 

Tags: kakekomi, japan
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