Japanese film-maker, Naomi Kawase has returned to the Cannes Film Festival for the 7th time with another awe-inspiring and soul touching movie-An.
The movie which opened the ‘Un Certain Regard’ sidebar is a perfect selection—as it clearly showcases the competing Japanese film industry and succeeds in challenging societal stereotype while giving viewers another opportunity to ask the question; what’s my purpose?.
‘An’ revolves around an old woman- Tokue (Kiki Kirin) in her mid 70s whose life dream of wanting to work in a dorayaki (little pancakes filled with an) shop seemed as though it has gone with the wind considering her age. Sentaro (Nagase Masatoshi) operated a dorayaki shop and after attempts by Tokue to get Sentaro to hire her as that part time worker he was looking for, she managed to change his mind when he tasted her delicious homemade an.
Even though the tasteful homemade an by Tokue was enough to get her hired by Sentaro, her dedication, energy and connection with Sentaro as well as her own cooking were the ingredients that placed her in the heart of her boss. But there was a bigger problem—that which the booming business could not even stand…
No matter how delicious those dorayaki tasted, the hovering stereotype was enough to get people throwing out and soon, Toku, the biggest asset and business changing part time worker became a liability.
It was not just dorayaki that Toku knew how to make; she understood life and could even ‘pick up’ on what the blowing wind was saying at anytime. Each person has a story to tell but Toku had a deeper story to tell, that which only did not change how Sentaro perceived life but also Kyara Uchida, who plays a young school girl.
To me, Kawase was not only looking to highlight the beauty in every person, especially those we hold extreme prejudice against—but she also celebrates humanity and the beauty in nature with this film, such that the movie gets you to re-evaluate your time in this world.