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LFF - Sawako Decides [2010] dir Yuya Ishii

SAWAKO DECIDES is all about Sawako, a country girl who eloped to Tokyo when she was young and stupid. Five years on, she is working her fifth crap job and on her fifth boyfriend. She sees herself as a "middling woman looking for a middling man". With no great ambitions, she goes from humiliating situation to humiliating situation. Her uncle begs her to return home as her father, who runs a freshwater clam business, is seriously ill in hospital. She is reluctant to return and be reprimanded for the way she left town. Her boyfriend, Kenichi, who is concerned with the environment and recently quit his job as her boss, pushes for Sawako to go. With him and his young daughter, Kayoko, in tow. Upon returning, Sawako has to deal with running a business and the unyielding women that work there. Ultimately, proving that she is not a middling woman!

Hikari Matsushima was late in becoming an actress, but she has proven to have a quirky taste in characters (see Sion Sono's Love Exposure) and a true pleasure to watch on screen. She carries Sawako off so well. The film revolves all around her and she inhabits Sawako like a second skin - rather reluctant and unassuming. 

The plot of the film is rather believable. In the big city, Sawako has lost direction and lost all ambition and drive that she might have once had. She dates the knitting/environment-conscious Kenichi whose daughter, Kayoko, just cannot bring herself to like Sawako. When the opportunity to return home presents itself and she, in her lack of direction and power, just does what Kenichi tells her. Upon arrival in the town, her father is willing to forgive her, now that he needs her care and is unwilling to let his daughter slip through his fingers once again. 

Basically, Sawako, through the return home, begins to get a better sense of herself and, not only, empowers herself, but also inspires the tough women at the factory. She becomes more certain and takes control of her life. 

The film was Ishii's second feature after his graduate film "Bare Assed Japan" ( won best film at the 2007 Pia Film Festival, which, incidentally, means that the winner gets his second project funded and that is how SAWAKO DECIDES came about. 


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About Tania Martins

Tania Martins

Filmmaker. Student. Blogger. Film Critic. Festival Organiser. Freelance Cameraperson. Explorer. Longboarder. WELCOME!


United Kingdom

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