Note: The next screening is Wednesday July 22, 3pm.
I was skeptical about this film. Sure it had won awards and gotten great reviews but having already watched a fair number of films about underdogs or adult losers who refuse to grow up, I was not particularly anticipating this film. The story is about a 32 year old woman, Ichiko, who is a slob with no job and no boyfriend. She also doesn’t do much to help her mother with running the bento shop. After a confrontation with her sister she moves out and gets a job at a 100 yen convenience store. There is a boxing gym near her new place which she eventually joins due to her attraction to a banana eating boxer there.
The story is very much a character driven one that follows the personal growth of Ichiko. While the synopsis may sound unoriginal and boring, watching the actual film is far from it. This is largely attributed to Sakura Ando who totally embodies the character and makes her progression believable. There isn’t a single event that makes her want to get into boxing but you can gradually see how all the accumulated events lead up to her in the boxing ring and you can also physically see this transformation in the way she looks and holds herself up. A fair amount of the film takes place at the convenience store where Ichiko has to deal with less than savory coworkers. While somewhat amusing, it’s not terribly interesting other than scenes with the overly talkative coworker that occur at other locations. Her relationship with the banana eating boxer is affecting with some humorous moments and a quietly heartbreaking one.
The eventual training and boxing montages and the climatic boxing match are nothing new but the match is well filmed giving us different angles and in close shots. Ichiko gets bloodied up a lot. We see the punches land and the pain Ichiko feels, in a sense it reflects the pain in her life and boxing reflects how she tries to fight back. This won’t be on my list of favorite films but it was certainly worth watching and others may appreciate it even more than myself.
Seen in the theatre at Fantasia 2015