A Day-Off of Kasumi Arimura: After My Homecoming (2020) review [San Diego Asian Film Festival]

Introduction

After eight years, eight years in which he once and for all established himself as the master of the oedipal family drama, Hirokazu Kore-eda returns to the small screen to collaborate on the 8-part tv project called A Day-Off of Kasumi Arimura. This project, in contrast to his previous tv drama, Going My Home (2012), is not his brainchild, but rather a collaborative project with various directors like Rikiya Imaizumi, Santa Yamagishi, Satoko Yokohama, and Megumi Tsuno and various screenwriters like Rikiya Imaizumi, Mami Sunada, Makoto Shinohara, Makiko Mizoguchi, Mitsuhiko Fujiki, Naoyuki Miura, Megumi Tsuno, and Sakura Higa.

For A Day-Off of Kasumi Arimura Kore-eda took the director’s seat for the first and the third episode. Today, we review the first episode of the TV series A Day-Off of Kasumi Arimura.

San Diego Asian Film Festival 2020

Review

When Mr. Kaibara becomes ill – he caught the flu, the production has no other choice than to cancel tomorrow’s shoot and to adjust the future schedule. With the shoot canceled, Kasumi Arimura (Kasumi Arimura), who plays prosecutor Yuko Todoroki, suddenly has a day-off. She decides to visit her mother Yumiko (Jun Fubuki).

As After My Homecoming is just an episode of a drama, we should not expect the same thematical depth as films are able to deliver. The fact that this slice-of-life narrative is marked by a certain narrative simplicity is, in fact, not a negative as such, because Kore-eda knows how to make the most of the narrative’s simplicity and what to emphasize in order to make the simple theme this episode touches upon touching.

A Day-Off of Kasumi Arimura: After My Homecoming (2020) by Hirokazu Kore-eda

After My Homecoming deals, in short, with the revelation of a family secret and how guilt can drive a subject to repay the debt that he, as subject, has appropriated. Kore-eda does not only show not only how the revelation of as family secret can put the relation between daughter and mother under stress, but also reveals how honest speech can allow a subject to easily accept the position of the other. That this simple narrative trajectory, a trajectory from conflict to acceptance, is pleasing to watch is due to Kore-eda’s emphasis on the small fleeting everyday moments of joy – moments often punctuated by lighthearted music. These subtle fleeting joyfulness do not only mark the many conversations Kasumi and her mother have, but also marks the act of familial cooking.

The composition of After my Homecoming is, at a certain level, somewhat atypical for Kore-eda. Instead of framing his narrative almost completely with natural and subtle movement, he opted to frame this narrative with more static shots and to use his typical spatial moving shots and tracking shots in a slightly more measured manner. Yet, despite this atypical element, Kore-eda’s composition still has its typical Kore-eda moments, framing certain moments of Kasumi’s day-off with the peaceful fluidity and subtle naturalism we have come to expect from the master.     

A Day-Off of Kasumi Arimura: After My Homecoming (2020) by Hirokazu Kore-eda

Kore-eda’s After My Homecoming is an enjoyable episode. While one should not except Kore-eda to question, once more, what makes a family a family – Kore-eda, in fact, formulated his final answer to that riddle with his award-winning Shoplifters (2018), his peaceful slice-of-life narrative does deliver an pleasing exploration of the notion of the family secret and how guilt can drive people to pay of their imagined debt.

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