|Funuke domo, kanashimi no ai wo misero 2007 Japan Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers!|
The films starts with a gruesome bus accident that kills the parents of siblings Shinji, Sumika, and Kiyomi. Kiyomi, an aspiring manga artist, witnesses it and decides the images would make good material for her next project. Four years ago, in their countryside home, elder sister Sumika (Eriko Sato) carved a checkerboard into her father's forehead because he wouldn't finance her dream of moving to Tokyo to become an actress. She turned to prostitution. Younger sister Kiyomi (Aimi Satsukawa) used her sister's actions as manga material and got it published. Sumika, in shame, left for Tokyo. The two sisters have not gotten along since. The death of the parents comes at a good time for Sumika who hasn't made it as an actress and is deeply in debt. She returns to her country homestead in the hopes of collecting some inheritance but finds out there isn't any. The rest of the story, although intricately woven, is not important here. Suffice to say the three siblings have deep dark secrets and rivalries that come boiling to the surface. It's the performances that make this film so good.
Robo-babe, pin-up girl, horror queen, and Cutie Honey: Live Action star Eriko Sato gives the performance of her career as the relentlessly cruel and self-absorbed Sumika. Sometimes a role is just made for someone, and Sato takes this one and runs with it. Aimi Satsukawa brings wonderful pathos to the asthmatic, innocent yet deeply disturbed, Kiyomi. Veteran actor Masatoshi Nagase is solid and creepy as the brother who's gone where brothers are not supposed to go with sister Sumika. Sato is the star of the film and the whole thing would be unbearably dark and cruel if it weren't for the hilarious and wholesome performance of Hiromi Nagasaku as Shinji's wife, Machiko. Shinji procured Machiko via a marriage agency and Machiko, wanting to escape the demands and false hopes of the city thinks she will settle nicely into the lives of some good ol' down home country folk. Oops. Nagasaku, deservedly, has won multiple awards for her performance. She elevates every film she is in and this one is no exception. She plays the straight man to all the morbid cruelty going on around her. Her Machiko is as much of a failure as everyone else but she hasn't learned to take it out on others. She just wants everyone to get along.
Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers! takes the theme of dysfunctional family drama and wrings it dry. If you like your humor dark and cruel, punctuated with double-takes that are sweet, wholesome, and absurd, you'll love this movie.
Summary: Think your family’s messed up? You aint seen nothing until you meet the Wago clan. A working class rural family, we meet the Wagos following the death of the parents who are killed when a truck swerves out of the road to avoid killing a cat. There is Kiyomi, the shy and asthmatic teen traumatized from witnessing the deaths of her parents. There is elder brother Shinji, who cuts wood and burns it to charcoal for a living. There is Machiko, the wife Shinji barely knows, having brought her to the country from Tokyo via an agency – a multiple award winning performance from Nagasaku Hiromi. And, finally, there is Sumika, the brutally self centered elder sister played with relentless cruelty by Cutie Honey’s Erika Sato, who returns home for the funeral from a failed attempt at becoming an actress and promptly presents her younger sister with the gift of a stuffed cat. “Isn’t that a little inappropriate?” the sweet natured Machiko wonders, concerned for the feelings of her young sister in law, only to be rebuffed by Shinji who coldly tells her to stay out of family business. Clearly there is history here and it’s not good.
A tangled mess of grudges, old arguments, jealousy, violence, sexual deviance and just about anything else you’d care to throw in the pot the Wago family is living proof that you can’t judge anybody by their exterior and while the internal battle rages poor Machiko is left on the outside as an intimate observer, caught in the crossfire of battle she doesn’t understand while gamely trying to maintain a happy and chipper demeanor. She’s the only one truly innocent in this mess and so, of course, she takes the brunt of the abuse.
That content like this would be played for any sort of comedy at all is a bit awkward and troubling but when Yoshida goes down that road he does with a such a dark streak that it’s clearly intended only as a means to break the tension, the brutality of Sato’s Sumika would be simply unbearable without something to lighten the tension. Essentially a chamber drama built around four characters Yoshida draws strong performances out of his leads and displays an impressive, if somewhat uneven, visual style. Funuke is an uneven work but one that travels well on the strength of its cast, particularly Nagasaku who provides a very much needed note of likable humanity.