Sweet Bean (2015)

Written by Reno on August 18, 2016

Encountering an unexpected and its impacts forever.

The Japanese foods considered as the healthiest food in the world. Yes, it's a food and restaurant related theme, and those who loves them should give it a try. It was another film like 'Midnight Diner' that I saw a couple of months back, which focused on a small eatery as this one. What fascinated me was its simple storyline and the realistic approach. It was based on the novel of the same name of the original Japanese title 'An' which translated as 'Bean Paste'. It is not just a food film, but well explored relationship of the people from different generations. This is quite common I found in the Japanese films, yet very distinct from other similar ones.

There were three characters in the films that kind of represents past, present and future. Where they all learn some important lessons from each others. I don't know that was intentionally done, but that is how I saw it. The most of the story's perspective was from the middle aged man, Sentaro who runs a small dorayaki shop which regularly visited by the students of the nearby school and the locals. His story is kind of depressing. Not the film, just what he went through in his life and after that his life remained quite a low without an alternative. Though, there were no flashbacks, but just revealed by orally when the right time comes.

One day a very old woman named Tokue comes asking for a job after seeing the signboard outside the shop and somehow she manages to grab it. Later she teaches him to make his own bean paste. This is the part I like very much, because it might have not revealed fully how to make a bean paste, but definitely you would feel you want to taste it right away when you see the beautifully prepared paste filled in the tray. So I won't be surprised if you visit a Japanese restaurant just to make your first taste of dorayaki or whenever you visit there, remember this film and ask for it.

"It's like a first date, the young couple needs to get friendly."

So with such a development, the film takes a leap to the next stage of the story. Where the shop sees the rise in customer influx and by its success, Tokue offered to stay and help further. On the other side a middle school girl, Wakana who has not decided about her future, whether to attend the high school or get a job in Takue's shop which obviously went to the old woman. In the meantime, all the three develop a close relationship to each other in the short time. Despite from the different social group, but the strong connection with the shop. But one day as the gossip spreading like a wildfire all over the town about the shop, followed by a couple of unexpected events, the story nears to its end part with an emotional episode.

The most of the film looked like a poetry. The director, who also wrote the screenplay did an awesome job. The cast's performances were outstanding. I have seen them all in different films, even though I did not recognise them at first. I think it is the actors and the wonderful cinematography that made this film looks better than its story. People put their recipe in a book and publish them or make the videos and release online, but I think this kind of film is definitely would make lot impact on, even for the non-food lovers to have a close look which would generate a serious desire and hunger. Just like 'The Ramen Girl', but not as good as this one. A film that preserves a precious dish digitally and makes reach corners of the world.

By now you know that I loved it, but there's something I did not like from it which is the third act. Actually, that final act was a bit drag. Compared to the earlier sections, those last 20 or so minutes were quite an unnecessary stretch. I am an easy prey to sentimental scenes, but for this film I did not feel a thing. Other than that, how it all ended pretty neatly wrapped which I applaud loudly.

Whatever I said all the good and bad stuffs about it, there are some other topics as well in it which came as a side message, but that overtook everything on the final stage and ended as it was the centre of the story like that about treating an older person with disability. I had said many times before in my earlier reviews that I easily fall for seeing the old people suffering which happened in this. So heartbreaking. Except a very few defects that affected me which might won't make a big deal for others, I recommend the film, especially for the drama fans and food lovers.