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About the Pink Sky: Sundance Film Review

About the Pink Sky

The Bottom Line

Quirky Japanese comedic drama lacks staying power.

Venue

Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema Dramatic Competition)

Director-screenwriter

Keiichi Kobayashi

Cast

Ai Ikeda, Ena Koshino, Reiko Fujiwara, Tsubasa Takayama, Hakusyu Togetsuan

The quirky black-and-white Japanese feature, directed and written by Keiichi Kobayashi, centers on a high school girl who finds a wallet belonging to a presumably wealthy boy.

PARK CITY — A slight, off-center drama that gradually reveals gentle humor, Keiichi Kobayashi’s feature About the Pink Sky – shot in black and white -- meanders along pleasantly enough for an hour or so, but eventually outlasts viewer interest. International-leaning film festivals will take notice, but commercial exposure beyond DVD in the US looks unlikely.

When high-school student Izumi (Ai Ikeda) – a girl with an active imagination and not much adult supervision – finds a wallet outside of school, rather than immediately returning it she decides to investigate the owner, a boy named Sato (Tsubasa Takayama). Judging from the swanky address on his student ID and 300,000 yen of cash (almost $4,000) in his wallet, this is a rich kid way out of her league, Izumi concludes.

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An avid newspaper reader, she soon discovers that Sato’s father is the head of the local horseracing association. Concluding that the boy’s cash must be “dirty money,” she’s in no rush to return it, instead lending 200,000 yen to her middle-aged fishing buddy, who has some debts to pay off.

With the remaining money, she offers to pay the bill for her friends Hasumi (Ena Koshino) and Kaoru (Reiko Fujiwara) and at a local café, but they quickly become suspicious of her sudden wealth and insist on returning the wallet, especially since Hasumi thinks that Sato must be pretty cute from the photo on his ID.

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Sato accepts the returned wallet and grudgingly gives the girls a 10 percent finders-fee, saying nothing about the missing money. Then next day when he catches up with Izumi, however, he demands return of the full amount and Izumi refuses, telling him about the loan to her friend. Since she’s a already a news fanatic, Sato makes a deal with Izumi: He won’t report her to the police if she’ll agree to produce a fake newspaper that contains only good news for his hospitalized friend. Izumi reluctantly agrees, recruiting Hasumi and Kaoru to assist, but none of the girls anticipate how Sato’s obsession with the project will affect all their relationships.

Kobayashi seems to have a knack for writing the young women’s roles – overall the dialogue and performances impress as authentic, even if the meandering pace is ultimately off-putting. His decision to shoot in luminous black and white doesn’t appear to be motivated by anything other than an aesthetic preference, since the format doesn’t particularly serve the film either narratively or thematically.

About the Pink Sky may prove to be Kobayashi’s calling card for bigger-budget projects, but on its own the film is too insubstantial to register a lasting impression.

Venue: Sundance Film Festival, World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Production company: Michaelgion Inc.
Cast: Ai Ikeda, Ena Koshino, Reiko Fujiwara, Tsubasa Takayama, Hakusyu Togetsuan
Director/screenwriter: Keiichi Kobayashi
Producer: Hiroshi Harada
Executive producer:  Hiroshi Harada
Director of photography: Keiichi Kobayashi
Editor: Keiichi Kobayashi
Sales: Free Stone Productions
No rating, 113 minutes