Otouto Takes a Darker Tone

February 16, 2010 — 2 Comments

I found a review of Yoji Yamada’s Otouto, which will be closing the Berlinale this 21st – hopefully Yoji Yamada and the cast can be there. The review has possible spoilers~~~

So you’ve been warned!

From the The Mainichi Daily News
by Tomomi Katsuta

No one ever associates Yoji Yamada’s films with gruesome incidents, and his works never feature characters that are evil to the core. They usually portray big-hearted utopian worlds that warmly welcome birds of passage, filled with people like the famous character Tora-san in the “Otoko wa tsuraiyo” (It’s tough being a man) series. “Ototo” (Younger brother), Yamada’s newest film, portrays a harsher reality, but it still emanates an unwavering humanity that does not betray the audience.

Ginko, played by Sayuri Yoshinaga, runs a pharmacy in Tokyo, while her younger brother, Tetsuro, played by Tsurube Shofukutei, lives in Osaka. Ginko is always picking up after her brother, but finds him impossible to hate. Tetsuro, meanwhile, aware of his sister’s fondness for him, takes advantage of her generosity.

When an inebriated Tetsuro causes a scene at the wedding of Ginko’s only daughter, Koharu (Yu Aoi), Ginko hands him money for train fare and sees him off, while others fume in anger. She subsequently pays for Tetsuro’s back rent and finally cuts him off, but requests a police search when she loses contact with him. Eventually, she discovers that Tetsuro has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and is living in an institution.

The relationship between the unreliable Tetsuro and the trustworthy Ginko is exactly like that between Tora-san and his younger sister, Sakura. Tora-san, too, once sabotaged an arranged meeting with Sakura’s potential suitor by getting drunk. But Tora-san had a home to return to and a nephew who adored him. In contrast, Tetsuro has nowhere to go, and is despised by his niece.

The movie opens with news clips and other snippets of video tracing the years from Ginko’s life. The “Otoko wa tsuraiyo” series was a fantasy, but “Ototo” is set in Japan today. Naturally, society turns a cold shoulder to the selfish ne’er-do-well Tetsuro.

Still, Yamada does not abandon him. The director stands ready with happy final moments of life for Tetsuro, in which he is embraced by both the institution’s generosity and the love of his family. It portrays society as it should be, and it’s powerful enough to make audiences wince.

Alongside the tale of a loving relationship between a sister and her brother, the film follows the relationship between divorced Koharu and carpenter Toru (played by Ryo Kase), a romance so pure to bring smiles to audiences and so typically Yamada.

Bolding mine. OMG. Married and divorced in one film! Too much shock hahahaha.

2 responses to Otouto Takes a Darker Tone

  1. I really can’t wait to see this…it sounds awesome! This could end up being the second best movie Yu’s been in…the first being AALCC of course!

    Also, I knew that Yu and Ryo would end up together. I could tell from the trailer.

    “Married and divorced in one film! Too much shock hahahaha.”

    -Our Yu is growing up right before our very eyes. You know what’s coming next don’t you….her being a mother on film. That probably won’t happen until she’s 30 though..she looks too young right now.

  2. “her being a mother on film”


    From Hyakuman-en to Otouto. Without counting she’s been a teenaged prostitute on AALCC xD… she really is growing up on film.

    “You know what’s coming next don’t you”

    When you said that, I immediately thought not-on-the after-sex scene on Hyakuman-en. xD

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