A STORY OF YONOSUKE
Directed by Shuichi Okita
Official Selection, 2012 Tokyo International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2013 Hong Kong International Film Festival
Tokyo, 1987. Yonosuke is a moppy-haired, dopey bumpkin in his first year of college in the big city, where he manages to get himself invited to situations where someone like him surely doesn’t belong: samba dancing, high-end seducing, gay cruising, double-dating. On one such date, Yonosuke meets Shoko, probably the only person in town as adorably naive, offbeat, and full of twitchy positivity as he. The immediate chemistry as they take down burgers and unwittingly make each other laugh is a thing of beauty, though for the next year, neither Yonosuke nor Shoko seem to know how to proceed as lovers.
The film though, knows brilliantly how to lay the story out. Through a flashback structure that reminisces on college in the late 80s, the film finds such whirlwind humanity in a hare-brained buffoon that, years later, he flares into his peers’ memories like a ray of light. The ways director Shuichi Okita (The Woodsman and the Rain) and actor Kengo Kora make Yonosuke both eccentric and perfectly ordinary – everyone knows a Yonosuke – makes the 160 minutes zip by like the first date with a first love. Meanwhile, Shoko (Yuriko Yoshitaka) is cute-overload, but is the perfect counterbalance to the titular kid. Other little details like the perfectly-placed stuffed tiger or the mysterious neighbor reveal a sympathy for eccentricity that matches the audience’s own as we melt for Yonosuke, reminiscing on the people we too are lucky to have known. –Brian Hu
Co-presented by: Japanese Society of San Diego and Tijuana