100 Yen Love

WINNER: Best Picture, Tokyo International Film Festival /Best Film, Best Director, Japanese Professional Movie Awards

100 Yen Love invokes the freewheeling, gritty texture of a vintage 1970s New Hollywood movie.” - Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter

Thirty-two-year-old Ichiko is a classic couch potato, a work-shy slob who spends most of her time playing video games in the back room of the family’s fast-food counter. Tensions with her younger sister Fumiko run high. When things finally blow, Ichiko moves out and takes a job in a 100-Yen store, the Japanese equivalent of a dime store. She frequently cycles past an old boxing gym and develops a crush on Kano, one of the men she sees training there. He has problems of his own and their eventual relationship is pretty fraught, but it leads Ichiko to take up boxing herself.

We’re talking neo-noir, so this is a not a romantic fairy-tale with a built-in happy ending. All the clichés fit: it’s “gritty,” “hard-boiled” and “down’n’dirty.” But it’s also funny, sexy and surprisingly dynamic in its picture of dead-end lives. And it has a stupendous performance from the fearless Ando Sakura at its core. Arai Hirofumi is also great as the boxer Kano, but it’s really Ando’s film: she does deadbeat-coming-back-to-life better than anyone you’ve ever seen.