The darling of new Japanese cinema, Satoko Yokohama confirms her talent and brilliant originality with Bare Essence of Life, a satisfying tale of rural eccentricity that combines black humour and fantasy with romanticism and drama. The film chronicles mentally challenged young farmer Yojin (Matsuyama) as he daily tends his grandmother’s organic vegetable garden. Life is peaceful until the day Machiko (Aso) appears in the countryside. A pretty nursery-school teacher who loves children, Machiko has come to escape her past: her boyfriend died in a car crash while he was with another lover. Something Yojin has never experienced before creeps into his heart; a feeling that brings unexpected consequences. Filmed with true empathy, Bare Essence of Life renders a vivid portrait of rural Japan. As the story unfolds its miracles and surprises, the audience follows the ups and downs of Yokohama’s characters.
Giovanna Fulvi, Toronto International Film Festival Programme
Kenichi Matsuyama, Kumiko Aso, Arata, Nozoe Seiji