Sweet Red Bean Paste France, Germany, Japan 2015 – 113min.
Lonely and unhappy, Sentaro runs a small shop selling dorayaki, traditional Japanese pastries made of two pancakes stuffed with candied red beans paste. One day, 70-year-old Tokue answers his ad for help in the kitchen. At first reluctant to hire her, Sentaro is eventually convinced when Tokue demonstrates her fabulous cooking skills. Despite her innocent air, she hides a big secret and will turn Sentaro’s life upside down...
A little over a year has passed since Japanese director Naomi Kawase was praised at Cannes for Still the Water. This may explain An’s energy: clearer, more accessible and more easily digestible, it seems like an attempt to attract a wider audience, far from the often misty trails and overt symbolism of the critically more acclaimed films (Suzaku, Shara, The Mourning Forest) that made Kawase a regular at the Cannes Film Festival. This culinary fable, although it again takes up the filmmaker’s favorite themes, seems bent on aiming for the proceeds that come from popular drama. It’s hard to blame the director to be content with less and for not taking the usual risks, because the sensitivity of Kawase and her screenwriter, as well as the shining presence of the formidable Kirin Kiki make An very sweet indeed.