If you have seen Chef Of The South Pole (JFF 2009’s Opening / Closing Film, in Melbourne / Sydney respectively) and thought it was nice, then you should definitely check out the latest from the film’s director Shuichi Okita – A Story Of Yonosuke. This nicely made film will give you that very nice feeling, and may even urge you to be nice to everybody around you. You see, I have crammed in as many ‘nice’ words as possible into this introduction so that you get a good idea of what the film is like – it’s nice, really nice.
The film’s story is so simple it can be summed up in just a couple of lines, and the title already tells you what it is all about. So I won’t elaborate here, but I do want to point out that some of the dialogues appear lost in translation. For example, at the beginning of the film, some of what Yonosuke says makes other characters giggle. Presumably it’s because of his country accent and different ways of expressing himself. Also, the name ‘Yonosuke’ seems to make the others laugh, and the only explanation that viewers get is that it sounds like the name of a famous comedian. I’m sure that I would have loved this film even more if I could appreciate those funny lines.
However, you really don’t need to know anything about the Japanese language or culture to enjoy this film about a warm and kind young man. Yonosuke (wonderfully played by Kengo Kora) is a loveable character and it comes as no surprise that all his friends like him so much. The narrative is episodic but the flow from one part to the next is mostly smooth, except for a few scenes where the characters talk about Yonosuke years after the main story, which come across as a little distracting. By the way, the film does evoke a strong sense of nostalgia, which reminds me of some of my favourite films, such as Always – Sunset On Third Street.
Despite its long running time (160 minutes), A Story Of Yonosuke does not have a dull moment. It firmly establishes Shuichi Okita as a brilliant storyteller, and I am certainly looking forward to seeing his other films. In the meantime, however, I am just hoping I’ll get the chance to see A Story Of Yonosuke again soon.
A Story Of Yonosuke is screening as part of the 17th Japanese Film Festival until December 8. Please check the website for screening times in your city.