Starring: Atsuko Maeda, Suon Kan, Seiya Ito
Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita
Running Time: 78 mins
Tamako In Moratorium is a Japanese film about a young woman who returns to her hometown after graduating from a Tokyo university, but creates problems at home when she stays a layabout and shows no drive to start her own life.
This is a very boring film. Oddly (and definitely erroneously) labelled as a ‘comedy’, Tamako In Moratorium is 78 minutes of underwhelming and frustrating family drama, failing to prove intimate or emotionally powerful in the way the slice of life genre works best, instead settling for a series of dull and repetitive outbursts spaced out by fairly inconsequential drama.
It’s fair to say that this genre is definitely hard to get right. There’s a very thin balance between heartfelt, genuine and relatable small-scale drama, and simply underwhelming events that just don’t feel like they deserve all that much attention.
Rather unfortunately, this film falls into the latter category, and the biggest reason for that is that there’s no real emotional injection into the story here. Director Nobuhiro Yamashita is far wide of the mark for providing a emotionally riveting independent drama, depicting the young woman as a far brattier and less likable character than is necessary for you to fully come round to her side, while the film’s almost entire lack of humour makes for an even more boring watch.
When these slice of life dramas fail to prove interesting, a couple of little laughs can go a long way to making the whole experience feel a little more bearable, and that’s a trend reinforced by this movie. There are clear attempts at humour, but all the jokes fall flat on their face, and although the film is by no means meant to be a hilarious romp, it really doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to being at all enjoyable, and fails to alleviate the boredom of its poor story.
Furthermore, the performances don’t do all that much to help the film as a whole. While it feels as if Atsuko Maeda in the main role isn’t given the best direction in how to portray her character’s reaction to all sorts of troubles, her performance still doesn’t feel at all emotionally in tune with the story, and again comes off as a little bratty instead of genuinely in a state of soul-searching and self-contemplation.
Overall, I wasn’t at all impressed by Tamako In Moratorium. Its failure to provide an either emotionally engrossing or even simply interesting story, along with a real miss when it comes to the lighter side of things and a much needed injection of humour, makes for a consistently dull and often frustrating watch, with unlikable characters populating an uninteresting chain of events, and that’s why I’m giving it a 5.4.