Genre: Drama
               Illness, sibling relationships, widow, Berlinale 2010

A cinematic homage to Kon Ichikawa

  Master of Japanese cinema, they are both, of the 2008 Kon Ichikawa died like Yoji Yamada. Otôto / her About Brother, Yamada’s latest trick, at the same time connecting this year’s 60th Berlinale formed, is a remake of a film of Ichikawa in 1960 and is also a tribute to the great master, who died two years ago. Yoji Yamada is now almost 80 years old, has turned over 100 films and is still very productive and full of energy. He is best known film series in Japan, primarily as the inventor of the Tora-san, which is 1969 to 1996 as part of the comedy series Otoko wa Tsurai yo / It is not easy being a man and was one of the most successful film series in Japan’s film history . In the opening credits of his new film Otouto, completed the year’s Berlinale, Yoji Yamada has set itself a winking statue. From the perspective of its protagonist Koharu (Yu Aoi), he leaves the post-war history of Japan pass in review and combines this with episodic events of his family, will tell of the film. And incidentally, this is the Tora-san film series-mentioned, reached in the late sixties and seventies cult status in Japan. What could easily be perceived as flirtation, sets in truth the direction of the upcoming film, defines its themes and tonality: Here and there people are at the center who are not necessarily on the sunny side of life. And while it will not only tragic moments also very funny lines. Expectations will be fulfilled completely.

Otôto / About her Brother is a film that is also absent from women: There is one part of the prematurely deceased husband, the pharmacist Ginko (Sayuri Yoshinaga), which is living with her daughter, Koharu, and their quirky and slightly senile mother. Despite the early loss of her husband and the father of her daughter, who is still honored at every meal, does the family that is Koharu now grown into a confident and well-bred young woman who is now nearing the marriage with a young doctor. At this wedding is now pushing the second man in the family network is absent, it can Ginkos younger brother, Tetsuro (Tsurube Shôfukutei), the black sheep of the family, a drunkard and alleged actor, who is with his alcoholic antics a wedding to a social catastrophe. As abruptly as he appears, he disappears again. But even if the family wants to forget this man and crowd favorite, after some time he pushes into her life, this time in the form of his wife. The confessed in tears that Tetsuro is deeply in debt. Full sense of duty to her younger brother takes over Ginko sacrificing all of its debts and their savings. Then again goes into the country for some time, until the family has a new piece of bad news by Tetsuro – he is seriously ill and has only a short time to live. So when the family wants to reconcile with him, have to move fast …

Virtuoso and lightly Yamada changes in his film between moments of extreme comedy and profound tragedy, without taking one or the other as would be bothersome. As in the Danish competition film En family is also about family, about dying and about how death changes the view of the family constellation irrevocably. Incidentally, Yamada is mild criticism of social conditions in which social differences are still huge. And he celebrated with unconcealed sympathy for the “little people” the solidarity of the neighborhood, which happens to us almost nostalgic. It is a kindly little universe, which he draws. To overcome, not without problems, but a livable environment in which family ties all opposition. At the end of shows, even the old mother reconciled with the black sheep of the family and notes that they both resemble each other more than they wanted to admit.

Even though we Ginkos selfless role as the ever-kindly female family head sometimes a bit of credibility to occur, and Tsurube Shôfukuteis interpretation of the ne’er-do for Western viewing habits often quite exaggerated effect – with its economical resources, the attention to detail and the courage to make great sense in the end these minor weaknesses, Yamada loose again competitive at the end and makes for moist eyes and a lot of emotion.

were In a way Otôto / About her Brother is the ideal closing film of this year’s Berlinale. Firstly, because he took up themes of the festival and competition, reflecting in particular the opening film, on the other, but also because it – fitting for the 60th Reminded anniversary of the festival – the traditions and proved Yoji Yamada, the wearer of this year’s Berlinale Camera for his oeuvre, his reference. And finally, it was also the mild tone of voice and the over all standing theme of reconciliation, as some critics who voted in the end it still mild. The Bucket List? Perhaps not quite. Nevertheless Yojo Yamada’s closing film at the Berlinale has reconciled with much of what earlier in the competition attracted the displeasure of many journalists.

(Joachim Kurz)

Title: Otôto Original Title: About Her Brother Country of production: Japan Year of production: 2010

Related posts