Saturday, 5 December 2015

100 Yen Love

This 2015 film is this year’s Japanese entry for the Oscar’s best foreign film. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know that each country could only nominate one film each. I was under the (perhaps naive) impression that they made some kind of effort to watch a decent amount and then make up their own minds.

Japan’s recent Oscar performance hasn’t been great, with only two nominations in the last thirty years (although one of those, Departures, actually won the Best Foreign Film Oscar) and I wonder if this is the film to break through the wall of indifference that the Oscar Academy usually shows.

The story is about a slacker, Ichiko Saita – played expertly by Ando Sakura – who is still NEET (No Education, Employment or Training) in her thirties. She finally gets a job in a convenience store, falls in love with a boxer and takes up the sport, desperate for a professional fight.

It’s a rights-of-passage film for a woman with zero self-esteem. Which is odd, when the people she meets and works with all seem far more dysfunctional than she is. Her wants and needs are positively mundane in comparison. Her desire for a normal relationship with the emotionally immobile boxer is almost heart-breaking in its futility.

It’s a comedy, but a very dark one and don’t be surprised if you find yourself wondering exactly when a scene went from humour to bleak realism. And, being a boxing film, there is the obligatory training montage.

In this film, boxing becomes a metaphor for the life that has pummelled Ichiko Saito into a nervous lump. Ichiko clearly wants to get beaten up, just so she can hug her opponent afterwards and it’s okay. An option that’s not available to her in real life.

It’s smart, affecting and emotional. I do wonder if it’s Academy material, though. However, with this film and 0.5mm, I would hope for a Best Actress nod for Ando Sakura. Or is that too naive, even by my standards?


  1. It would be awesome if someone actually sat through all the movies in the world to pick the Foreign candidates, but... each country does have a committee... many don't know how they work--- India, for instance, had that controversy of picking the small film The Good Road over the wildly popular The Lunchbox. Of course, one would argue that since The Lunchbox has a States release, they had a bigger chance of getting there on their own, but without distributor backing, it was a long shot. A similar thing happened when Spain didn't send The Skin I Live In.

    And to crush your Oscar naivete, chances of a Best Foreign Film getting acting nods. Null. LOL Only Roberto Benigni, Sophia Loren and Marion Cotillard are credited with winning a Best Actor/Actress Oscar with a role in a foreign language (also Marlee Matlin, if you consider American Sign Language a foreign language :)) But Ando was amazing in both. 0.5mm might be one of my favorites.