This japanese movie, directed in 1999 by Takeshi Kitano marks a change from his usual violent style, gangster story of film making, and is instead a lovely comedy with a sad undertone and some tragic moments. These moments are always resolved beautifully, though, so the funny and joyous moments prevail.
Apart from Takeshi himself, who stars under his acting pseudonym Beat Takeshi, the movie stars the following actors:
Summer holidays have begun, and all of nine-year old Masao's friends go for their holiday trips with their families. Soccer class is also suspended during summer vacation, so Masao, who lives alone with his working grandmother (Masao's father died in a traffic accident soon after he was born, and his mother is working somewhere far away), is feeling very alone, entering only the weather in his scrapbook as events of the day. So when he discovers the name and address of his mother, he is determined to go and find her.
On his way, he meets a neighbor who volunteers ("You don't have anything else to do except loaf around, so go with him") her no-good husband (Takeshi) to escort him to his mother's home. But the first thing he does when out of sight of his wife is to take Masao to the bicycle race track and subsequently lose the travel money gambling. So, after being stranded without money, they must find other ways to reach their goal, such as hitchkiking
From that point, the movie becomes something of a road movie, with many amusing or strange episodes. Takeshi's character has quite a temper, being a former yakuza, and generally doesn't take the direct route (like just asking nicely to be taken along), but instead cooks up some strange scheme to be taken along. And when they finally get to the place where Masao's mother lives... But that would be telling, wouldn't it?
Anyway, the movie is filmed and acted beautifully, offers many surprises and funny ideas and has more depth than it lets on at first. Takeshi also uses his own artwork (as in pictures) to great effect is the film. One should also note that Takeshi once again asked Joe Hisaishi to score the film, leading to yet another beautiful soundtrack that compliments the film beautifully. It is definitely a movie to go out and see. It's no wonder this film was in the official selection of the 1999 Cannes Film Festival and the 1999 Toronto Film Festival.
The film has also been released on DVD in Japan, as well as in the US (under the title Kikujiro), so renting or buying it is also an alternative. I know I have...
It has a running time of 116 min and is rated PG-13 for those of you who care about these things.