Sweet Bean (Japanese, Amazon Prime Video)
Starring Kirin Kiki as Tokue, Masatoshi Nagase as Sentaro, Kyara Uchida as Wakana
Directed by Naomi Kawase
Rating *** ½
From the land of Akira Kurosawa comes this delectable moving and sweet story of a bond that grows between a streetside café owner and a lonely elderly lady who strolls in one day to ask for a job. Kirin Kiki as Tokue doesn’t act. He would never win awards in India. The veteran Masatoshi Nagase reminded me of our own Durga Khote. Both the actresses radiate natural goodness.
Little does Tokue know that his life will never be the same again, as this unassuming, all-heart-no-malice woman takes over the destiny of his shop. As delicate as the delicacy named dorayaki that Tokue serves, Sweet Bean is a film about the details that go into the making of the delicacy. These become a metaphor for those spontaneous moments and gestures of kindness that make life worth living.
There are only three principal characters in this Japanese gem, the third being a bereft teenaged schoolgirl Wakana who walks into the tiny café to savor its specialty. The use of that cramped space to depict the growing intimacy among the three very different cross-generation souls has to be seen to be appreciated.
Sweet Bean’s gentle storytelling says so much about the people who have created this miniature masterpiece. Only the kindest heart can engender such tender art.The film moves at its own pace, inviting us to partake in a story of kindness and empathy that has no boundaries.
I watched the film with English subtitles. But I am sure there would have been no problem of communication without explanation. The language of the heart has no words. In the greatest cinema the spoken is the least important component of communication and the background score is the prop for the poor communicator. Sweet Bean proves it.
I was not familiar with the films of director Naomi Kawase. Now I intend to seek out each one of her films and savour them like chunks of dorayaki.
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