Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers! (Funuke Domo, Kanashimi No Ai Wo Misero)



Marrakech International Film Festival

MARRAKECH, Morocco -- "Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers" ("Funuke Domo, Kanashimi No Ai Wo Misero"), black comedies about dysfunctional families based on a novel by Yukiko Motoya, has a talented cast yet looks like a television soap. Maybe that is what director Daihachi Yoshida wanted to attract younger audiences, women in particular. The movie has a good boxoffice potential, though it appears out of place in a festival competition.

Yoshida packs dark humor in his narrative, much of it comes from Sumika (Eriko Sato), a failed actress who returns from Tokyo to her rural home when her parents die in a accident trying to save a black cat sitting in the middle of a road. Her hardworking woodcutter stepbrother, Shinji (Masatochi Nagase), and his new wife, Machiko (Hiromi Nagasaku), are not happy when Sumika asks for an allowance to live in Tokyo.

Four years before, Sumika quarreled and almost killed her father for refusing her money to pursue stardom. But Sumika was not one to be stopped: She prostituted, made money and left home, although not before getting into an incestuous relationship with Shinji, a relationship she resumes after her return to get favors out of him. Their little sister, Kiyomi (Aimi Satsukawa), is inspired by her family mess to draw manga comic strips, winning huge prize money and ruining Sumika's reputation. Naturally, Sumika holds Kiyomi responsible for her failure as an actress.

The film can be seen as a commentary on Japanese society, where schoolgirl prostitution, uneasy father-daughter relationships, domestic violence and suicides are not uncommon. Machiko bears the brunt of her husband's ill temper, yet she keeps smiling and laughing. Kiyomi stoically bears Sumika's bullying, but continues to draw and ridicule her family. Sumika overcomes obstacles with her cunning ways. But Shinji crumbles.

A couple of decades ago, another generation of Japanese helmers would have made a serious study of a dysfunctional family from such material. Not Yoshida, who uses comedy to make his points, even if the film comes off a bit like a trashy television serial.

Phantom Film
Writer/director: Daihachi Yoshida
Based on a novel by: Yukiko Motoya
Producers: Shuji Kakimoto, Keisuke Konishi, Yutaka Suzuki
Directors of photography: Shoichi Ato, Atsushi Ozawa
Production designer: Yasuaki Harada
Music: Soichiro Suzuki, Yoshiaki Kusaka
Editor: Kumi Okada
Sumika: Eriko Sato
Kiyomi: Aimi Satsukawa
Shinji: Masatochi Nagase
Machiko: Hiromi Nagasaku
Running time -- 111 minutes
No MPAA rating