Dir: Nobuhiro Yamashita. Japan. 2013. 78mins
A gently quirky film that recalls the oddball charm of his 2005 film Linda, Linda, Linda, Nobuhiro Yamashita’s engaging and sweetly beguiling Tamako In Moratorium is a laid-back pleasure, reveling in its modest dramatic movements and driven by an almost expressionless - but absolutely engaging - lead performance by young Maeda Atsuko as Tamako.
Maeda Atsuko is a real delight as a 23 year-old floundering around, looking for direction but also content with her father’s love and attention.
In recent years Yamashita has been making larger scale films such as My Back Page (2011) and The Drudgery Train (2012), but Tamako In Moratorium sees him taking a step back and making a much more simple and gently nuanced film in the vein of Linda, Linda, Linda and A Gentle Breeze In The Village (2007). It is a film that lacks great dramatic arcs and relies on sweet humour and a modest tone. The film had its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival.
The premise is simple. Tamako has returned home from college, but instead of looking for a job, all she wants to do is lounge around at the small town home she shares with her father Zen (Kan Suon) who runs local shop Kofu Sports. She lounges in bed and plays video games while be cooks, washes her clothes and cleans around her.
The film covers the four seasons – starting in Autumn, though with Summer taking up the largest amount of screen time – as Tamako sluggishly stirs into life; forms a sweet friendship with Hitoshi, a young boy who comes into the shop to buy the right basketball shoes; tries to avoid former friends and stalks (in an engagingly inept way) Yoko, the woman his father goes on a blind date with.
Yamashita Nobuhiro has specialised, to a certain degree, in the youthful coming of age film in which nothing profound happens, but he has a rare skill for gentle and subtle (and often rather quirky) humour, and in Tamako In Moratorium the warm humour comes from Tamako’s petulance as well as her gentle manner. Maeda Atsuko is a real delight as a 23 year-old floundering around, looking for direction but also content with her father’s love and attention. Her subtle eye movements or change in posture tell as much about her character as lines of script or exaggerated gestures, with the film ultimately a understated gem.
Production company: MON Entertainment
International sales: Bitters End Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org
Screenplay: Kosuke Mukai
Cinematography: Akiko Ashizawa, Yoshihiro Ikeuchi
Main cast: Maeda Atsuko, Kan Suon, Suzuki Keiichi, Tomita Yasuko, Nakamura Kumi