An – Sweet Bean

An excellent example of why I enjoy watching films from other cultures so much.

The story starts in a conventional manner, then takes a turn which reveals things about Japanese history (recent at that) of which I was not aware. It also throws in some interesting culinary information too.

The lives of a solitary chef, an elderly woman and a school girl intersect at a small shop selling dorayaki – sweet bean paste-filled pancakes – and while their meeting may be conventional, their histories gradually reveal more than would normally be imagined.

It’s a very gentle-paced film, with lots of listening – to the wind in the trees, a bird singing, beans cooking – but it doesn’t drag in the slightest. Kirin Kiki is outstanding as the elderly woman, and Masatoshi Nagase delivers an excellent performance as the solitary ‘Boss’. Interesting to note that the young girl is played by Kyara Uchida, who is actually Kirin Kiki’s granddaughter.

I have to admit to having seen none of director Naomi Kawase’s previous films, so I will definitely rectify that – and am open to advice on where to start.


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