The PIA Film Festival has a wonderful tradition of supporting young Japanese filmmakers, and this flick is the 19th in a long line of fine movies made with PFF scholarship money. Sawako (Hikaru Mitsushima) is a bumbling Tokyo 20-something with no dreams, no aspirations and no talents. She gleefully accepts her ineptitude but is forced out of her go-nowhere life when her father becomes ill and she must take over the family clam-packing business in her rural hometown. This is just fine by her nebbish boyfriend, a single dad named Kenichi (Masashi Endo), who tags along with his daughter in the hopes that the three of them can form a new family. However, when issues from Sawako’s past arise and she must deal with the small-mindedness of local bumpkins, the film’s tone passes from absurdity to tragedy. By portraying—and celebrating—its characters’ less-than-mediocre lives, Kawa no Soko Kara Konnichiwa treads a wonderful line between deadpan humor and touching melancholy. A gem. English title: Sawako Decides.
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