Megane is the type of cutesy-quaint foreign import that’s just about insufferable. Naoko Ogigami’s tale concerns a middle-aged woman named Taeko (Satomi Kobayashi) who arrives on an island in the south of Japan and takes up temporary residence at a remote inn run by Yuji (Ken Mitrsuishi) that no one has frequented in three years because all prospective visitors get lost on account of the proprietor’s simplistic maps (tee hee!). The only other people around (aside from some random kids) are rude high school biology teacher Haruna (Mikako Ichikawa) and quiet, elderly Sakura (Masako Mota), who visits the inn every spring, organizes arm-waving exercise classes on the beach, and makes the best shaved ice in the whole gosh darn world. Sakura is one of those eccentrics whose silence and cheeriness is meant to denote wisdom and/or saintliness, but there’s nothing sharp (much less divine) about the film’s depiction of Taeko attempting to acclimate herself to her new locale, a sleepy, secluded paradise in which her compatriots do nothing other than cook, eat, and “twilight,” a pastime that amounts to relaxing and thinking about stuff. The strong sense of place that director Ogigami creates is mainly due to an unbearably torpid tempo, though more interminable is her idea of drama and humor, both of which involve people opening their eyes slightly wide, raising their eyebrows, and going “Huh?” to strange developments or “Hmph” after eating some new, tasty food item. Given that the gentle rhythms and charmingly picturesque portrait of this Oceanside nook are affected with a lethal strain of aren’t-I-darling? pretentiousness, let me respond to Megane and its sickly sweet parable about stopping to savor the shaved ice with my own wordless noise: “Ugh.”
- 106 min
- Naoko Ogigami
- Naoko Ogigami
- Satomi Kobayashi, Mikako Ichikawa, Ken Mitrsuishi, Masako Mota
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