If your child died in a freak accident partially caused by your own negligent mistake… Could you ever forgive yourself?
In film ‘Love Life’, a young boy plays with a toy plane on top of a water filled bath tub and slips, hitting his head on the way down. Unconscious and submerged, he drowns. The mother finds her son’s lifeless body first and blames herself, screaming in agony.
While the family she married into moves on apathetically, feeling unburdened of the child from her first marriage. Relieved.
‘Love Life’ premieres in the USA for the first time at NYC’s Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) on Sunday, March 19 at 12:45 pm. Oscilloscope will also be releasing the film in theaters later this year. This ‘Love Life’ movie review contains spoilers.
Love Life is one of the most realistic and sad movies you’ll see this year. An x-ray exposé inside human nature being remorselessly selfish at heart.
From Takeo’s (actress Fumino Kimura) father-in-law initially calling her a ‘cast off’ for having a child from another marriage. Refusing to accept her into the family…
To her second husband Jirô (actor Kento Nagayama) unable to produce a tear for the loss of Takeo’s son Keita (actor Tetta Shimada) post accident, taking down remnants of him at the house. One by one.
Even being jealous of Keita’s biological father (actor Atom Sunada) breaking down at the funeral with Takeo. “Like a real married couple.”
Takeo’s mother-in-law (actress Misuzu Kanno) only sheds tears when Takeo decides to bring Keita’s coffin back to his room, so he can be home one more time. As Takeo and Jirô’s apartment is owned by Jirô’s parents, and she feels it’ll bring on bad spirits to have him there.
Meanwhile, Jirô’s ex Yamazaki (actress Hirona Yamazaki) who he cheated on to be with Taeko, admits to wishing something terrible to happen to them pre-accident. She confesses to being ‘the worst’ for doing such a thing but still takes the opportunity to kiss a married Jirô.
Jirô no saint himself, admitting seeing Keita in the coffin just made him think he ‘needs to get Taeko pregnant fast and have his own child’.
A mother’s pain never goes away
Takeo is unable to stop blaming herself for Keita’s death. Referencing that Jirô always told her she shouldn’t leave the bath tub filled up after finishing to bathe.
Actress Fumino Kimura should get multiple awards for this performance, capturing every last detail of misery as a mother losing her son. Constantly replaying what went wrong in her head, unable to go back to the same bathtub without vomiting.
Trusting the unreliable
Park (Atom Sunada) is Taeko’s first husband, a Korean national who abandoned Taeko and their son Keita years ago. He is constantly drunk and having trouble finding work & benefits being deaf without Taeko’s assistance. As most do not understand sign language, especially in Korean. Not even in his local social services office.
Taeko reconnects with Park when he attends Keita’s funeral and slaps her, then hits himself in the face multiple times, crying in pain on the floor… Before fleeing the scene.
Initially, Takeo says she will never forgive Park for hitting her and running away at the funeral. But Takeo finds Park is the only one who truly understood her. While everyone else was on the fast track to a world with Keita in it, Park shared her pain.
Later in ‘Love Life‘ Park tells Takeo he needs money to go back to Korea to attend to his father’s ailing health. She obliges his request.
At the airport, in sign language, Park says “Don’t forget Keita. He will always be a big part of your life. Don’t ever let them make you forget.”
In a flash second decision, Takeo decides to abandon her second husband Jirô and go on the flight to Korea with Park. She soon discovers however, that Park had lied to her.
In actuality, he wanted to go to his first son’s wedding. Park’s father had never been sick, it was a ploy to get money out of Takeo. In actually, Park had an entirely separate family he abandoned in Korea that Takeo knew nothing about.
During the wedding, while everyone dances outside it begins to pour down. Others go indoors but Takeo is the last one left standing, feeling every droplet. All alone in the rain.
Park was not the answer she was looking for. There would never be an answer to the death of her son.
– Love Life will screen at MoMI’s First Look 2023 film series in New York City on March 19, 2023 at 12:45 pm. Tickets are $15 for non MoMI members, $11 for seniors and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / discounted for MoMI members ($7–$11).
‘Love Life‘ is Directed by filmmaker Kôji Fukada.
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