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SWEET BEAN

Director: NAOMI KAWASE

113 mins, Japan-France-Germany, 2015, Subtitled, Digital


This film was released 5th August 2016, and is no longer screening.

Middle-aged Sentarô (Masatoshi Nagase, Mystery Train), dour and taciturn, runs a small restaurant that specialises in dorayaki, a Japanese confection consisting of two pancakes surrounding a filling of sweet red bean paste. One of his regular customers is schoolgirl Wakana, to whom the cook also gives leftover stock at the end of the day. Elderly Tokue (veteran actress Kirin Kiki, who regularly appears in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s films) approaches Santorô about an advertised part-time position, willing to work for an even lower wage than promised. Reluctant at first, he is persuaded when he tastes her home- made filling, infinitely superior to the factory-produced version he had been using. As the business becomes more popular, the three form a surrogate family, each having suffered through their own personal loneliness. Though low-key in style, Sweet Bean is a beautifully-performed pleasure, gentle, compassionate, and ultimately moving. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)

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