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Cherry Blossoms Review

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Not knowing that he is dangerously ill, a middle-aged civil servant, who has suddenly lost his wife, visits his son in Japan and learns more about his wife, her dreams and himself.

★★★★

This variation on Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story is held together by a moving performance by Elmar Wepper, as the civil servant seeking to fulfil his wife’s last wishes. Having been as coolly received by Tokyo-based son Maximilian Brückner as he and Hannelore Elsner were in Berlin by ungrateful children Birgit Minichmayr and Felix Eitner, Wepper cuts a truly tragi-comic figure.

But once he gets to know busker Aya Irizuki, he steps out on the road to redemption. Full of gentle humour and unforced pathos, this is a delight, with Hanno Lentz’s photography stippled with subtle metaphors that avoid cross-cultural platitude and quaint kitsch.

Unpredictable and compelling, this draws parallels between Japanese and German cultures in interesting and moving ways.