Sweet Bean

Sweet Bean (2015)
113 min|Drama|January 27, 2016
7.3Rating: 7.3 / 10 from 5,126 usersMetascore: 60
The manager of a pancake stall finds himself confronted with an odd but sympathetic elderly woman looking for work. A taste of her homemade bean jelly convinces him to hire her, which ...

The “Sweet bean” movie begins with a sequence of the main character (Masatoshi Nagase) walking up to the roof of his apartment building for a cigarette. He walks out of his apartment, up the steps, smokes, walks down the steps, and back into his . Kawase’s patient camera, keen to silently observe motion and thereby her characters’ interaction with their environment, likens this doubled movement to breathing. The story is shaped by a similar oscillation: that of night and day. It revolves around ’s small shop, where he sells dorayaki, a mouth-watering Japanese dessert consisting of sweet bean paste (the “an” of the original Japanese title) sandwiched between two pancakes, and it mostly develops through a series of days at the shop. Every day the shop is populated by the same three high school girls and (Kyara Uchida), a high school age girl whose pressures her to work instead of go to school. Eventually (Kirin Kiki), a blissful elderly woman with mysteriously disfigured hands, shows up at the shop looking for work and, despite ’s initial reluctance, her bean paste wins him over. They start to collaborate on the dorayaki; makes the pancakes and Tokue the bean paste, making a popular product which brings many customers. A scene in which Tokue is left to man the shop alone heavily emphasizes their need for each other to make the perfect dorayaki, as Tokue struggles to flip the pancakes and burns many of them.

A twist in the middle of the film reveals that Tokue has leprosy, a secret that spreads and causes the shop’s business to vanish. We also learn of a mysterious incident in Sentaro’s past which caused him to be somewhat alienated from society. After this twist, the film begins to develop its ideas about the characters’ respective prohibition from society. Wakana, herself alienated from her peers because her mother won’t let her attend school, looks through a book of photographs of majorly disfigured lepers which ends with the quote, “We, too, want to live in society where sun shines.” While this does sort of come out of nowhere, it doesn’t feel out of place. It unifies the presence of the primary trio of characters and contextualizes Tokue’s deep connection with nature, keeping her exclamations that “the trees are waving their hands” and commands that Sentaro must “listen to the stories the beans have to tell” from coming off as saccharine. This characteristic rather comes to signify Tokue’s ostensibly artificial relationship with the natural world as a response to her inability to create relationships in the human realm, due to her prohibition caused by her disease. All the main characters of Sweet Bean are pariahs, and the story suggests for a while that their cooperation can yield a lovely fruit. Yet their rejection from society ultimately signals a deterioration of their dynamic. We learn the toll that Tokue’s long history of rejection because of her disease has taken on her, and witness the dissolution of Wakana’s already fractured family life. After the characters’ outsider status becomes increasingly apparent and begins to show significant effects in the film’s second half, the film ends on a much more melancholy note than where it began.

Post Author: Lisandru

Hello, my name is Alex aka Lisandru. I am an engineer, husband, blogger in free time and I'm living in Romania. This is my blog, where I post about beautiful places, automotive, games and movies reviews, videos and also about some things from my life. Never miss out on new stuff.

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