This small independent Japanese film has a surprisingly quiet life affirming message setting down roots among the melancholy and solitude that permeates it. Revelations about life can happen anywhere it seems – in this case in a rundown old fashioned love motel that is owned by the taciturn middle aged Tsuyako (Lily) who seems to get through each day only as a means to get to the next. The film tracks a few other women who cross her path over a few days. The blonde haired Mika (Hikari Kajiwara) is a thirteen year old girl drifting sullenly through her life unable to deal with the fact that her father left her mother and has now settled down with another woman and had children with her and no time for Mika. She notices the odd sight of young children making their way into the love motel and decides to follow them inside. She goes with them onto the elevator where they tell her they are going to Asyl, a liberated zone in the city. It takes her to the rooftop where she comes upon a garden and playground where anyone is welcome. She decides to stay for the night and later is grumpily invited by Tsuyako to have something to eat.
Thirty-something Tsuki is frantic – she has lost her notebook where she monitors how many steps she has taken each day for the past many years. The loss though serves to liberate her and that day she begins a conversation with her neighbor Tsuyako who she has ignored for many years due to her profession. Tsuki is married but always alone and she asks Tsuyako if she can work for free at the love motel. She too discovers Asyl. The final character to enter the film is Marika (Chiharu Sachi Jinno) a young woman who brings a different man with her to the love motel each day. She is equally annoyed and fascinated by this grim woman who runs the hotel and begins to poke her nose into her background and the past of both of them spills out. Slowly paced and often static – one lengthy conversation takes place entirely in the pitch black – the film takes you into unexpected subtle emotional places with some small wonderful discoveries if you are willing to go with it.
My rating for this film: 6.5