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A spell of time in the life of a family living in rural Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo. Though her husband is busy working at an office, Yoshiko is not an ordinary housewife, instead working on an animated film project at home. Uncle Ayano has recently arrived, looking to get his head together after living in Tokyo for several years. Meanwhile, Yoshiko's daughter Sachiko is mainly concerned with why she seems to be followed around everywhere by a giant version of herself.Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Taste of Tea tells a charming story of an unconventional Japenese family, the Haruno's, with characters as likable as they are eccentric; Hajime (Takahiro Sato), a shy teen with an unrequited love and a developing case of "female phobia." Sachiko (Maya Banno), a little girl with a 40 foot imaginary twin. Ayano (Tadanobu Asano), an uncle with his share of interesting stories. Grandpa Akira (Tatsuya Gashuin), a Manga posing old man with a unique spin on hide and seek. Taste of Tea features all these rich characters, as well as a psychiatrist father (Tomokazu Miura),an artistic mother (Satomi Tezuka), and an flamboyant uncle in a wide array of well-constructed vignettes that range from hilarious, to sad, to outright beautiful.
Leisurly paced, Director Ishii is in no hurry in telling the story(ies) of the Haruno's. At 143 minutes, Taste of Tea might test some people's patience, particularly those who watch Japanese films for the exploitative nature of Asian Cinema might be disappointed. But those who possess the fortitude, will be greatly rewarded by scenes such as hilarious "Mountain Song" and the Super Big Screening. However, the film's emotional payoff features one of the most bittersweet moments contained in any film, of any country. It is sure to move many viewers to tears... myself included.
As important as Ishii's direction, is the ensemble casts performance. Everyone does a great job here, particularly Asano, who steals any scene he's in (obviously), and Tatsuya Gashuin stands out as the wonderfully comical Grandpa. That being said, the sum of the whole is greater than it's parts, as everyone in this film is wonderfully casted and portrayed. There really aren't any week links in terms of acting, which helps create interesting, vibrant characters which is crucial to this type of film, and under Ishii's competent direction, the result is pure cinematic magic.
The cinematography and score are also integral to Taste of Tea and it doesn't disappoint. Achingly beautiful filmed landscape shots, combined with a subtle and reserved score help set the film's emotional nature. Constantly changing with the film, evolving as the characters grow and change. Cinematographer Kosuke Matushima and composer Tempo Little hold their own with Ishii's direction and the casts performances to create a touching film of immense beauty.
As quirky as it is brilliant, A Taste of Tea reminds the viewer of the beauty of life, family, and the awkward little moments we all endure, but never really truly appreciate till afterward. A masterpiece of Japanese cinema, Katsuhito Ishii cements his reputation as one of the most interesting directors of modern Japanese Celluloid. After directing the wildly entertaining Shark Skin Man, and the brilliant family drama Taste of Tea, one hopes we can expect wonderful things from him in the future.
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