Director Nobuhiro Yamashita
Starring Ryuhei Matsuda, Riku Onishi & Yoko Maki
Recommended for ages 12 and over.
Primary school student Yukio is faced with writing a class assignment about a family member. After a few false starts, he settles on his uncle, his father’s colourful but freeloading younger brother, who lives with the family. The uncle, a part-time philosophy lecturer, spends most days lounging on his bed with the family cat, chain smoking, quoting Kant and “thinking”, while secretly reading Yukio’s comic books. Desperate to get him to leave, Yukio’s mother recruits her no-nonsense sister as a matchmaker, who introduces him to Eri, a beautiful Japanese-American photographer from Hawaii. But Eri returns to Hawaii, setting Yukio and his besotted uncle off on an adventure.
My Uncle has made it to the list of my favourite movies (there might not be an actual physical list but, trust me, it’s on the list) there is a lot going for this movie but the main reason why I enjoyed My Uncle so much is that it’s the kind of movie that gives you a warm happy feeling that radiates from the pit of your stomach and there are not a lot of movies that are capable of such a thing.
What I like about Asian cinema and foreign movies in general is that there can be completely different ways of approaching a given genre. But what I found was that a lot of the same beats that you would expect a Hollywood comedy to hit and it is comforting to think that as human beings that we are not as different as we might think we are. Riku Ohnishi gave a brilliant performance as Yukio and the young actress who played his sister gave an equally impressive performance. Ryuhei Matsuda was great as the Uncle (I particularly liked the scene where the Uncle goes to buy cigarettes in Hawaii) if I get the chance I am going to have to check out more of his work if I get the chance to. It should be noted that My Uncle was based on the novel “Boku no Ojisan” by Morio Kita (published 1972 by Shinchosha). Given that I am unfamiliar with director Nobuhiro Yamashita’s work, I might have to check out another one of his movies given how much I liked My Uncle. The soundtrack, the use of Yukio’s narration throughout the movie and the Uncle’s fantasies.