$15 * No passes accepted
What if you were given a set of guidelines, neé, a recipe for healing? What if you were given a set of steps that, if followed to the letter, could guarantee a happy outcome for your life?
Loss permeates the lives of Ryohei, (Renji Ishibashi) a grieving widower and his daughter, Yuriko (Hiromi Nagasaku), who is on the verge of divorcing her cheating husband. The absence of Otomi, Ryohei’s wife and Yuriko’s mother is oppressive. Ryohei falls into apathy and depression. Yuriko longs for comfort after the devastating discovery of her husband’s infidelity and struggles with infertility. The traditional 49 day mourning period following her mother’s passing is the backdrop for her visit to her father- whom she finds to be bereft and guilt-ridden.
Teenager Imoto (Fumi Nikaido), arrives unbidden to Ryohei’s household and, in short order, takes it upon herself to putting the house in order. She is a stranger to Ryohei and Yuriko, but they soon warm to her presence. More off-putting, however, is the sudden appearance, also uninvited, of Harumi (Masaki Okada), a flamboyant, bubbly, outspoken friend of Otomi. The pair avail themselves to the grieving family to help put together a festive party (in lieu of a somber memorial) that Otomi specifically requested to end the 49 day period of mourning. Moreover, Imo hands over a recipe book, written by Otomi. The recipes are for cooking, cleaning, and nurturing one’s way to a fulfilling life. Ryohei and Yuriko give it a shot, feeling this unorthodox endeavor, with these two unorthodox personalities, is a way to remain connected to Otomi.
Director Yuki Tanada breathes life back into the character of Otomi. Already passed when the film opens, superficially, Otomi is a “typical” self-sacrificing, ever-nurturing wife and mother. But, as father and daughter cook and clean their way through her testament, her character grows more complex, more beloved, and her loss all the more conspicuous. What starts out as a simple family melodrama develops into a meditation on family, connection, grief, and ultimately- healing.