If you think it all sounds rather dull than that's perfectly understandable. The thing is, it really isn't. Breathe In, Breathe Out is a beautiful, pure, subtle and heart-warming drama.
A fine drama that plays like a more sentimental version of Koreeda's After Life. Shinohara isn't as subtle, the drama itself has a clearer direction and some moments can be a bit much, but overall this is a sweet, loveable and slightly fantastical film that had little trouble convincing me of its qualities. Fans of '00 Japanese dramas won't be disappointed.
A somewhat inconspicuous short to start off Shinohara's career, except that Work on the Grass is a perfect precursor to Breathe In, Breathe Out, arguably one of Shinohara's best films to date. The premise is very similar, so is the appeal, though the limited runtime keeps Shinohara from hitting the necessary dramatic notes.
Two boys are starting their work day together. Their job is to cut the grass of a large field. One is a seasoned professional who has been doing this work for quite a while, the other a first-day temp who missed the introduction classes. The start of their day is pretty rough, but as they get to talking, they slowly develop a bond.
The premise is simple, don't expect anything too profound from this little slice-of-life drama. It's just the boys spending their day together, talking on their breaks and cutting grass in a rather beautiful setting. It's not going to be for everyone, but I really appreciated this down-tempo drama.
A sweet but somewhat unremarkable little drama about two future veterinarians who both want to help animals in their own way. People with a soft spot for animals and pets are sure to appreciate the message and moral dilemmas put forward in this film, but the drama isn't quite strong enough to warrant the 2-hour runtime.
Sota and Ryosuke are both studying to become vets. Sota cares too much about animals to hurt them and his mission is to safe every animal possible, whereas Ryosuke wants to change things from the inside and is willing to get his hands dirty, if that means he can run his own shelter and make structural changes to animal welfare later in his life.
The actors do a decent job, there are plenty of cute animals running around, and the direction is pleasant. There's no real urgency though and the presentation of the moral dilemma is a bit simplistic. It's certainly not a terrible film, it's just that Shinohara is obviously capable of better. A film with its heart in the right place.
Worthy but flawed
A noble attempt, but this Chinese-Japanese co-production never really finds its rhythm. Maybe it's because the romance is rather overstated and cheesy, maybe Shinohara just wasn't the right man for this particular blend of China and Japan. There are some hopeful moments, but overall it's just not that great.