Drama | Japanese with English subtitles | 113 minutes
Sentarô is a middle-aged man operating a dorayaki snack shop inTokyo. When he posts a “Help Wanted” notice, Tokue, a woman in her mid-seventies, applies for the job. Sentarô feels she’s too old and rejects her. But Tokue is determined. When she notices that Sentarô uses a terrible factory-made bean paste as a filling she has a plan. She makes a home-cooked bean paste and brings it to Sentarô to taste. He finds it amazing, the best bean paste he’s ever tasted. He hires Tokue and with her supervising the cooking, business picks up. But word gets out that Tokue had leprosy, but is now recovered. Nevertheless, the customers stop coming to the snack shop and a bereft Tokue decides to leave. A heartbrokent Sentarô feels guilty he couldn’t protect Tokue. But Tokue assures Sentarô she is grateful for the time she was allowed to spend at the snack shop.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 85%
- Metacritic Score: 60
- Asia Pacific Screen Awards: Winner, Best Actress (Kirin Kiki)
- Asian Film Awards: Nominated, Best Actor (Masatoshi Nagase)
- Cannes International Film Festival: Nominated, Best Director (Naomi Kawase)
- Chicago International Film Festival: Nominated, Best Foreign Film
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After all these decades and throughout the ever-changing styles of world cinema, Japanese filmmakers are still unmatched at achieving a certain type of quiet, contemplative simplicity. The latest example is Naomi Kawase’s SWEET BEAN, which is bare of excess of any form – dialogue, setting, music, melodrama – and is enhanced by three wonderful, understated lead performances and the director’s eye (and ear) for nature and contemplation.
Ostensibly, a lovingly made study of homemade cooking and old-fashioned values, this beautifully played drama contains a mordant denunciation of the lack of compassion that shapes some Japanese attitudes.
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