A Japanese film written and directed by Beat Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano). The original Japanese title was "Kikujiro no Natsu" (Kikujiro's Summer).

Kikujiro concerns a little latchkey kid who decides (just like that!) to go on a trip to find his mother. He lives in Tokyo and he knows his mom is in Toyohashi, so he just heads out. He's accompanied by a perpetually misbehaving middle-aged man (Takeshi) who "helps" along the way.

Without giving anything away I'll say that this movie is at once incredibly funny and heartbreakingly tragic; it is wise and witty and manages to leave the audience happy -- at least I was happy, although I wasn't sure why. A real sense of wonder is at work here. Beat Takeshi is more well-known for his violent crime films like "Hanabi" and "Violent Cop"; this movie is not like those. It is uniquely Japanese and has a few moments that are slightly confusing, but overall the delightful supporting characters trancsend cultural barriers - kind of like "Shall we Dance?" in that way.

As an aside, having spend a good deal of time in the countryside surrounding Tokyo (About 100 miles north, actually), the scenery was incredibly beautiful. Yes, it really does look like that. Aa, natsukashii. . .

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