films seen
25
average score
3.48*
nationality
Japan - 53 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

Raised under the wings of Shunji Iwai, Yukisada grew up to be one of Japan's better contemporary drama directors. His oeuvre is one of the most consistent I know, so when looking for solid Japanese drama, look no further.

The good stuff

Pink and Gray

by Isao Yukisada
Pinku to Gure
2015 / 119m - Japan
Drama
Pink and Gray poster

Pink and Gray is a pretty great film, but some familiarity with the director will definitely help you to appreciate it to its fullest.

Women Play Twice

by Isao Yukisada
Onnatachi wa Nido Asobu
2010 / 122m - Japan
Drama
4.0*/5.0*
Women Play Twice poster

Considering the film as a whole it's not that much different from a normal feature-length Japanese drama, though the change in characters and perspectives do add some welcome variation.

Parade

by Isao Yukisada
Paredo
2009 / 118m - Japan
Drama
4.0*/5.0*
Parade poster

Parade is quite a lengthy film and the first hour you might be excused for wondering what all the fuzz is about.

A Day on the Planet

by Isao Yukisada
Kyo no Dekigoto
2004 / 110m - Japan
Drama
4.0*/5.0*
A Day on the Planet poster

It's not always easy tracking down Yukisada's films, but for fans of this type of films it's definitely worth the trouble.

Solid pieces

The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese

by Isao Yukisada
Kyuso Wa Chizu No Yume Wo Miru
2020 / 131m - Japan
Romance
3.5*/5.0*
The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese poster

Yukisada being Yukisada. The biggest difference is that he plays around with LGBTQ elements, I don't think I've ever seen him do that before. Not that it changes a lot, it's still a very typical romantic drama with the usual woes and worries, but it's nice to see the Japanese mainstream is getting a bit more accepting of these topics.

Kyoichi's life is about to get turned upside down when Wataru, a private detective, uncovers his infidelity. Wataru is an old classmate of Kyoichi, and has always had a thing for him. Rather than come clean to his spouse, Kyoichi promises to spend a night with Wataru, a night that will unleash a lot of conflicting feelings.

It's nice to see something different from the usual coming out stories, sadly there's a bit too much back and forth between Kyoichi and various partners, which puts a little strain on the second half. The performances are decent but not exceptional, the cinematography and score are polished but expected. It's a very solid drama, but having seen so much of Yukisada already it's not a film that stands out from his other work.

Theater: A Love Story

by Isao Yukisada
Gekijo
2020 / 136m - Japan
Drama,Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Theater: A Love Story poster

A sweet but rather familiar romance by Yukisada. In recent years Yukisada's been exploring some different genre niches, with Theater: A Love Story he seems to return to what he knows best: a solid combination of romance and drama. It works well enough, but at this point I expect more (or something different).

Nagata is a play writer for an underground theater group. He's somewhat of a recluse, but when he meets Saki he has finally found someone he can open up to. He's finally able to write a popular play and the relationship between the two seems to be going into the right direction, until Nagata starts sabotaging himself.

Performances are great, the film looks nice and the score is very pleasant. There's really nothing wrong with this film, except that I've seen Yukisada do the exact same thing better in the past. His latest is just very safe and by the numbers. It's perfect filler when you're looking for quality drama, but it didn't get to me the way his best work can.

That Moment, My Heart Cried

by Hiroki Horanai, Hiroki Inoue, Daishi Matsunaga, Takashi Miike, Isao Yukisada
Sono Shunkan, Boku wa Nakitaku Natta
2019 / 115m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
That Moment, My Heart Cried poster

A pretty peculiar anthology. This was marketed as something a bit more experimental, heralding new forms of film making and all that. The result: five pretty basic Japanese drama shorts, some of them with a little fantastical twist, but none of them really doing anything special or out of the ordinary.

There's no clear concept here, apart from the fact that the primary focus lies on drama. Takashi Miike and Isao Yukisada were brought in to spearhead this film, the other three directors are younger and still have everything to prove. Again, that's par for the course, as most Japanese anthologies are set up this way.

Miike's short feels like a live action version of a Shinkai film, but the execution is a little flat, the 2nd and 3rd shorts aren't all that remarkable either. Horanai's film is the first to really show some promise, but it's Yukisada's 5th and final entry that finally delivers the goods. It's certainly not a bad collection of films, but I honestly expected more. There are no weak films, but no stand-outs either.

River's Edge

by Isao Yukisada
Ribazu Ejji
2018 / 118m - Japan
Comedy
3.5*/5.0*
River's Edge poster

Lately Yukisada's films have turned a little grittier. River's Edge has dark edges that I'm not used to seeing in his films. Yukisada handles it well, though the 90s setting (ugly 4:3 screen ratio included) feels completely superfluous. Good performance, good drama and some poignant moments, but it lacks that little extra.

Narratage

by Isao Yukisada
Narataju
2017 / 140m - Japan
Drama,Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Narratage poster

A typical Yukisada film. A solid mix of drama and romance, some tougher themes and soft styling. If you've seen some of his other films, you'll know what to expect. Good acting, fine camera work and some touching moments without becoming too sentimental. A bit too long though, but otherwise very good.

Five Minutes to Tomorrow

by Isao Yukisada
Mayonaka no Gofun Mae
2014 / 129m - China
Romance,Mystery
3.5*/5.0*
Five Minutes to Tomorrow poster

Solid Pan-Asian romance that turns mystery halfway through. Yukisada is a great director and aces both genres, but the combination is somehow less than the sum of its parts. The two parts never quite gel together and I would've preferred it if the film had stuck to the romance. Still, there's plenty to like here, so well recommended for fans of Yukisada's work.

Tsuya's Nights

by Isao Yukisada
Tsuya no Yoru
2013 / 138m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Tsuya's Nights poster

Closed Note

by Isao Yukisada
2007 / 138m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Closed Note poster

Into the Faraway Sky

by Isao Yukisada
Tôku no Sora ni Kieta
2007 / 145m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Into the Faraway Sky poster

Snowy Love Fall in Spring

by Isao Yukisada
Haru no Yuki
2005 / 150m - Japan
Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Snowy Love Fall in Spring poster

Yukisada is best known for making contemporary drama/romance cinema, but 2005 was the year that he wanted to do something different. Year One in the North and Snowy Love Fall in Spring are two films that feature a more historic setting. While not Yukisada's biggest strength, Snowy Love Fall in Spring is clearly the better of the two.

The film takes a while to get up to speed, which isn't too surprising considering the rather uptight and formal early 20th century setting. It's not really an ideal era for sprawling romance, but the second half makes up for that, when the story finally takes a turn for the tragic and Yukisada feels visibly more at ease.

Performances are strong, with Tsumabuki sticking out in a stand-out role. The rest of the cast is good too, but not quite as notable. The cinematography is classic but refined, the same can be said about the soundtrack. The film's a bit long-winding and the intro a bit long, apart from that this was a fine romantic tragedy.

Crying Out of Love, In the Center of the World

by Isao Yukisada
Sekai no Chûshin de, Ai wo Sakebu
2004 / 138m - Japan
Drama,Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Crying Out of Love, In the Center of the World poster

Jam Films

by Daizaburo Hanada, Jôji Iida, Shunji Iwai, Ryuhei Kitamura, Rokuro Mochizuki, Tetsuo Shinohara, Yukihiko Tsutsumi, Isao Yukisada
2002 / 109m - Japan
Comedy,Drama,Fantasy
3.5*/5.0*
Jam Films poster

Rock 'n' Roll Mishin

by Isao Yukisada
Rokkun Rouru Mishin
2002 / 120m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Rock 'n' Roll Mishin poster

Go

by Isao Yukisada
2001 / 122m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Go poster

Luxurious Bone

by Isao Yukisada
Zeitaku na Hone
2001 / 107m - Japan
Drama,Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Luxurious Bone poster

Sunflower

by Isao Yukisada
Himawari
2000 / 121m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Sunflower poster

Open House

by Isao Yukisada
1998 / 116m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Open House poster

The inoffensive

Aroused by Gymnopedies

by Isao Yukisada
Jimunopedi ni Midareru
2016 / 83m - Japan
Drama,Romance
3.0*/5.0*
Aroused by Gymnopedies poster

Yukisada's entry in Nikkatsu's Roman Porno reboot. While not bad, the constraints of the genre work against the film. The drama is laudable, but there are just too many interruptions that distract from Itsuji Itao's emotional struggles.

Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections

by Brillante Mendoza, Kulikar Sotho, Isao Yukisada
Asia Sanmenkyô
2016 / 118m - Japan
Drama
3.0*/5.0*
Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections poster

Decent anthology, though based on the talent involved here, expectations were slightly higher. Three solid shorts, but it's all a bit expected and safe, i.e. socially conscious drama without visual excess. It's not the best use of the anthology medium if you ask me. Still, not a bad trio of shorts.

A Closing Day

by Isao Yukisada
Tojiru Hi
2000 / 91m - Japan
Drama
3.0*/5.0*
A Closing Day poster

Worthy but flawed

Year One in the North

by Isao Yukisada
Kita no Zeronen
2005 / 170m - Japan
Drama
2.5*/5.0*
Year One in the North poster