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SYNOPSIS: In contemporary Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase) runs a small bakery that serves dorayakis - pastries filled with sweet red bean paste ("an"). When an old lady, Tokue (Kirin Kiki), offers to help in the kitchen he reluctantly accepts. But Tokue proves to have magic in her hands when it comes to making "an". Thanks to her secret recipe, the little business soon flourishes... And with time, Sentaro and Tokue will open their hearts to reveal old wounds.

Review by Louise Keller:
Cherry blossoms, sweet bean paste and secrets are some of the ingredients of this involving drama in which a confectioner, schoolgirl and elderly woman cross paths. Based on Dorian Sukegawa's book and selected to open Cannes' Un Certain Regard in 2015, Naomi Kawase's film uses the symbolic bean paste that fills the pancakes her protagonist makes that brings together her three main characters. Simply told with plenty of heart, the film explores the simple joys that relieve burdens and unite souls.

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom when we meet Doroyaki stall manager Sentaro (Masatoshi Natgase), schoolgirl Wakana (Kyara Uchida) and 76 year old Tokue (Kirin Kiki), who is the catalyst for change. When he hires Tokue against his better judgment for the part time job he is advertising - mindful of her age and crippled hands, he quickly finds her input makes a huge difference not only to his business but to his perception of life. An (the chunky, sweet bean paste) is the soul of the doroyaki, Tokue tells him, replacing his commercially bought filling with the one she painstakingly makes herself.

The full moon is high in the sky as Tokue soaks, drains, boils the beans for the first time, and waits patiently for the scent of the steam to change, talking to the beans all the while. It is an insult to hurry the process, she tells her boss. It's like a first date: the young couple needs to get to know each other. The cooking sequence is enough to make you hungry for beans. Word of the new doroyaki travels quickly and business booms.

Word also travels quickly concerning the secrets that both Tokue and Sentari hide. Keep a tissue handy: it is at this point that the film's mood changes and becomes soulful with some highly moving scenes. It's a charming film about nature, relationships and living for today.

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AN (M)
(Japan/France/Germany, 2015)

Aka Sweet Bean

CAST: Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase, Kyara Uchida, Miyoko Asada, Etsuko Ichihara

PRODUCER: Koichiro Fukushima, Yoshito Oyama, Masa Sawada

DIRECTOR: Naomi Kawase

SCRIPT: Naomi Kawase (novel by Durian Sukegawa)


EDITOR: Tina Baz

MUSIC: David Hadjad

RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes



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