August 15, 2020
I don't think dramas can get any more Japanese than this. A film centered around tea ceremonies, with some very light drama on the side. The most surprising thing is that it comes from director Tatsushi Ohmori, a man who started his careers with one of the darkest dramas I've ever seen.
I'm not extremely familiar with the Japanese tea ceremony, but I do know it's a very delicate and elaborate set of operations that has meaning beyond simple explanations and reasoning. With a powerhouse like Kirin Kiki in front of the camera, flanked by younger talents like Haru Kuroki and Mikako Tabe, the film has more than enough dramatic weight, even when the plot remains very light.
Ohmori's direction is solid. The camera moves slowly and deliberately, framing is clean and the music is gentle. It doesn't really stand out from its peers, but it sets a perfect tone for this slightly meandering film. No masterpiece, but a very warm, rich and subtle drama that is more than just the sum of its parts.