Dear Etranger



IMDb Rating 7 10 167


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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by GyatsoLa 8 / 10

Step problems

I caught this film at the Japanese Film Festival in Ireland - I had no big expectations of the film, but I left pleasantly surprised. Its a modest film, but quite touching and engrossing, despite its slightly excessive length.

The film focuses on Makato, a middle aged man devoted to his wife, two step children, and his daughter from a previous marriage. His career is suffering from his refusal to do the extra hours and weekend work needed to climb the corporate ladder, he sees no sense in sacrificing time with his children. Unfortunately, his modest happiness is threatened by his wives pregnancy - he first worries at the impact on his daughter, but overlooks that his older step-daughter feels even more threatened by it. Only his wife seems happy about the pregnancy. As his step daughter rebels and he is demoted to a demeaning job at work, designed to force him out, his modest life threatens to fall apart.

The film is very nicely directed by Yukiko Mishima, although the editing is too loose - a number of flashbacks are superfluous and the film could have been tightened up and shortened. The cast, including the children, is uniformly very good. The film wisely avoids too much melodrama in favour of a slice of life realism, although there are plenty of fairly heavy handed visual metaphors added in. And its particularly nice to see a film which explores the difficulties in taking on step children. Even the no-good father of Makato's step kids is treated sympathetically by the film. This is a film with no bad guys or good guys, just people struggling with the petty tragedies of life.

Reviewed by Abbye-Sei 2 / 10

Hard to understand Japanese Culture from an outside's view

Stumbled on this film on a lazy sunday afternoon. Opened my eyes to the Japanese Culture of family belief and norm. This is hands down one of the worst movie that I have watched.

As with all Japanese and Korean movie, they are slow paced and actors and actresses seldom display too much emotion on their face (compare to Hollywood movies). No problem there, as I do expect that.

However what I do not expect is the culture, if this movie is to be believe, does it mean when a couple divorced, the father has no responsibility or no rights to his children? The children just simply pass to the step father to raise and that's it?

I truly dont understand Nanae's surprise when she sees her husband's child from his first marriage, so a japanese wife is expected that her husband will cut all ties to his previous life once he is married to her? And the daughter just introduced herself as her father's friend to the father's step daughter as if the step daughter has more right to him than the biological child. And the father didnt even bother to correct it!! and the current wife reiterated that the biological child is his friend!!! How crazy is that!!! It is as though he needs to sneak to meet with his child like it is a crime! And the biological child acted like she is the mistress getting caught, is loaded with guilt to have the father drove her to the hospital!! this is truly amazing (means as a sarcasm)

So, basically, the Japanese society is you let other man raise your child and you raise another man's children, just like that??? And the craziness of all is this guy paid the biological father to meet with his step daughter who despised him and all the mother can do is shout No No, No , you cant let them meet!! dear lord.....give me a break

Now I understand why Japan has the most aged population in the world. With a family sturcture like that, who in his right mind would want to get marry and raise the next generation (who probably aren't his children).

Reviewed by WILLIAM FLANIGAN 7 / 10

Collateral Damage.

DEAR ETRANGER (DEAR STRANGER/OUTSIDER) / WE ARE HAVING A BABY / BABY US WITH BEING BORN [Lit.] (OSANAGO WARERA NI UMARE). Viewed at CineMatsuri 2018. Script = four (4) stars; subtitles = three (3) stars; lighting and color correction = three (3) stars; cinematography = two (2) stars. While divorce may work (more or less) for adults, the negative impact on children can be considerable and lasting especially when remarriages occur and there are multiple sets of bio/step-parents. Working from a well-written script, this is the primary focus of Director Yukiko Mishima's multithreaded photo play which is a drama that does not descend into melodramatic territory. Mishima's serial-marriage story involves a divorced professional woman with full custody of a pre-teen daughter (whom she never wanted because of her career ambitions) now remarried (her new husband has become sick and is dying) with her former husband played by Tadanobu Asano (a recently fired salary man now working in a warehouse, but still wearing a suit to work!) marrying a divorced battered/abused younger woman who is a housewife with a grade school and a high school (early-teen) daughter and has (reluctantly) become pregnant. The professional woman's daughter has deeply repressed negative emotions about her stepfather (and, perhaps, her mother); the early teen daughter hates her stepfather and starts to attack her pregnant mother like her biofather used to attacked her mother (and herself); and the grade-school daughter is starting to ask pointed questions about her parentage and seriously listen to the hate rants of her rebellious older sister. Three marriages and three (traumatized or about to be) daughters--so far. In a way, all characters are strangers at least to members of other reconstituted families which Asano's character works hard to ensure and refuses to acknowledge his pigeon-hole selfishness even when his adopted teenage daughter keeps telling him he is a stranger and demands to see (and, perhaps, live with) her biofather. The Director only partially resolves this mess, but drops hints as to what might happen down the road. Child actresses Sara Minami, Raiju Kamata, and Miu Arai steal most of the scenes causing adult players to scramble to keep up. The use of flashbacks is a bit confusing, as it can be unclear when they end (labels are applied when they begin). Asano's performance is overloaded with pregnant (no pun intended) pauses. Cinematography (blown up from 16 mm, DCP, color) suffers from the "fog" and graininess that accompany blow ups. Hand-held camera(s) is not stabilized for movement artifacts (despite corrective techniques being readily available for decades!) and provides an ongoing distraction/nuisance. Lighting and color correction are fine. Sound is limited to three channels. Music is barely there and not really missed. Subtitles are close enough with most signs/text translated. May cause you to reconsider having kids, but recommended nonetheless! WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.

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