Love Life

Reviewed by Vaughan Ames

Our Japanese film 'Love Life' last week proved to be almost 2 stories in one – it started as a pretty, almost funny family drama until the small son, Keita, tragically dies in an accident. This was then followed by a complex love 'quadrangle'. Keita's father, Park, who deserted his mother, Taeko when he was first born, comes back into her life at the funeral. He is not only Korean, but homeless and deaf, so the only person who can communicate with him is Taeko; encouraged by her second husband, Jiro, she is dragged into helping Park more and more until (slightly unbelievably?) she takes him back to Korea where his father is supposed to be ill...but it turns out Park has lied and it his son's wedding he wants to go to. Meanwhile, Jiro starts to see his ex-girlfriend again… There are also problems with Jiro’s parents too. A complex family story, then, which the director, Kôji Fukada, handles very well, pulling the audience into the lives and loves, mainly believably, if a little melodramatically for me.

The director was inspired to make the film by a song of the same name which led to the weakest point of the film: the ending. Taeko returns from Korea to Jiro but with an understandably large hole in their relationship. They decide to go for a walk to give them space to think, but with the song playing behind them as they disappear into the distance; the song was far too long for me, and the walk added little to the story.