Tuesday, October 20, 2009

[TIFFCOM 2009 Review] No More Cry!!!

Brotherly Love

This is a tale of two brothers who can't be any different, separated when Yuta Yamagishi (Sadao Abe playing the grown up version) followed their father when he walked out on their mom, with the other but still an unborn child. Being an irresponsible parent, Yuta got abandoned with a restaurant owner, whose ham cutlet with 40 year old special sauce is all the rage, who accepted Yuta as his own and groomed him to inherit his iconic family business as the next Yama Chan, and if not for his fat daughter Tetsuko complete with table manners made fun of, would have Yuta marry her to really become part of the family.

The younger brother Yusuke (played by Eita of April Bride fame) knows of his brother's existence, but for obvious reasons does not know what had happened to him. An unsuccessful comedian, his fortunes started to pick up when he met Daisuke, and together formed the popular TV comedic duo, the Kinjo Brothers with Yusuke's popularity gaining from his depiction of the Romantic half, and Daisuke being the Academic half, essentially the brains behind the duo's meteoric rise and funny jokes.

The truth is No More Cry!!! over-extended itself with its slice of life depiction, throwing in plenty of ingredients into the pot to make it one bloated pic that needed trimming to its sub plots. Not that they're not interesting, but they just pile on with little direction to where it wanted the audience to head towards, with attempts at making this a comedic drama with wild family moments. Get this for a sense of plot diversity under one movie, with everything from a whimsical narrative on the Yamagishi boys' respective tales of growing up, to romance, to the need for family, to secret lives, and culminating with a focus on environmental protection even! Not to forget the virtues of cooking ham cutlets under dangerously high cholesterol levels no thanks to chunks of melted pork lard oil in a steaming pot.

I would enjoy this more had it focused on its story about the Yamagishi brothers' quest to search for each other, and their reconciliation efforts which calls for the putting aside of material wealth and fame, for something more lasting which is family ties. In fact, family ties is one of the important running themes in the film, where the boys have been forced to live and create new families with complete strangers, and question which life one would want, that of celebrity, or one more sincere with family. Examined too is the dilemma that Yusuke goes through, in not wanting to abandon his Kinjo Brother for Yuta, which would mean the disbanding of their successful group as he's the more charismatic of the duo, something he deems unfair since he owed his huge break to Daisuke.

The narrative shifts from various points of view taking over the narration, such as from Yusuke to Tetsuko (Yuko Takeuchi), now transformed to a pretty lass and single mother to two kids, and takes on dimensions involving family conflict in attempts to reconcile, through comedy and drama. Unfortunately though some of the comedy happen to fall flat on its face because it just tried too hard to be funny, much like Yuta's character in being the ultimate people pleaser, but there are some notable moments which provide for some genuine mirth, especially the quirky, flashback ones.

Eita paled in comparison to Sadao Abe's presence on screen, though of course it could be also due to Abe's Yuta having more screen time and the focus placed squarely on him for the most parts. There's a wide spectrum of emotions that he had to tackle, and it stemmed from the dreams and sadness that are hiding behind and deep down a clown's permanent, plastic smile. He's probably the one main reason to watch this film, and also for another role depiction which should be kept under wraps as a surprise. Yuko Takeuchi also excelled as the demure yet stern protector of Yuta's feelings, and watch her unleash some fury against those she dislikes, particularly at Yusuke with whom she has to compete for attention.

No More Cry!!! aims to be a crowd pleaser with its fingers firmly put in many offerings for an audience, but ultimately tanked itself for its overly long and melodramatic, sappy spoils of a finale that didn't prove to be the icing on the cake and stayed well past its welcome.

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