With a mouthful of a title, this film refuses to be defined by genre as it gleefully stirs absurdist comedy, sexual dysfunction, sisterly psychosis, prostitution, manga revenge, fear of cats, minor miracles and sly vindictiveness into a delicious low key oddball brew. At times it flirts with a mirage of sweetness, but then pulls back the curtains to reveal lovely spite and malice clinging all around this family like spider webs that took years to take form. Dysfunctional families don’t happen overnight.
In the opening scene an elderly couple gets run over while trying to help a cat get out of the way – the lengthy red streaks in the road speaks of their demise as does the horrified look on the face of their gloomy looking eighteen year old daughter, Kiyomi (Aimi Satsukawa). Afterwards, Kiyomi moves in to live with her step-brother Shinji (Masatoshi Nagase) and his perpetually smiling new wife Machiko (Hiromi Nagasaku). Kiyomi’s sister Sumika comes back from Tokyo purportedly for the funeral but in truth because she is broke and in hiding from debt collectors. Sumika (Eriko Sato – Cutie Honey) is everything that Kiyomi is not – glamorous, sexy and sexually experienced – and when she brings Kiyomi a gift of a stuffed cat you sense that this is done not with affection but with a sharp dagger. Years previously Sumika went to Tokyo to make it as an actress but so far her only success was as a victim in a serial killer movie. Now at loose ends she needs to come up with money and a job but mainly she wants to torture her younger sister for having put her private life into a popular manga and making her a laughing stock in the town. Dear brother Shinji tries to cool things down but Sumika may have a hold on him – right between his legs. Behind her spectacles and cringes, Kiyomi looks very much the victim, but you don’t grow up in this family without having the sting of a scorpion. Set in the middle of nowhere, the film almost comes across as the evil cousin of Taste of Tea – but though mean spirited it still suggests in the end that your family is always family – sometimes though with sharp fingernails greeting you.
My rating for this film: 7.5