films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Mio on the Shore

Watashi wa Hikari wo Niggite Iru
2019 / 96m - Japan
Mio on the Shore poster

A gentle coming of age drama that alternates between stylized and more naturalistic scenes. It's an accomplished film by a director who knows what he's doing, at the same time the film struggles to set itself apart from so many other Japanese dramas. Very solid filler in other words.

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Mio is a young girl who grew up in the countryside, working in a local inn. When the inn closes down she is sent to a friend of the family who lives in Tokyo. It's time for Mio to see more of the world, but Tokyo isn't anything like home and she needs time to adapt to her new environment.

Performances are strong, the cinematography looks very polished, characters are intriguing and the drama is touching. Seeing the coming of age elements mixed with the redevelopment drama is a bit odd, but it gives the film some extra character it lacks elsewhere. Definitely not a bad film, just a little too expected for a true masterpiece.

Summer Blooms

Shigatsu no Nagai Yume
2017 / 93m - Japan
Drama, Romance
Summer Blooms poster

Sweet and compact romantic drama. The kind of film Japan does well, but also the kind of film that feels a little stuck in its own clichés. There are no surprises here, all the dramatic beats are predictable and even the styling is by the numbers. The execution is on point though, and that's what matters the most.

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The story revolves around a young woman who appears stuck in her life. It's not that she's unhappy, but her professional and romantic aspirations appear to have been put on hold indefinitely. There's some light trauma in her past that caused this situation, which is slowly revealed throughout the course of the film.

I'm quite fond of these films, so I didn't really mind how predictable everything turned out to be. The cinematography is nice, with several striking moments, the soundtrack pleasant without being overbearing and the performances are endearing. A very solid drama that has no obvious faults, except that it doesn't really set itself apart from its peers.