Struggling street food vendor Sentaro finds himself confronted with Tokue, an odd but sympathetic elderly lady looking for work. When he reluctantly accepts, it's not long before Tokue proves to have an extraordinary gift when it comes to making "an" - the sweet red bean paste filling used in his dorayakis - which starts a relationship that is about much more than just street food. With 'Sweet Bean', Kawase again focuses on people at the periphery of Japanese society and investigates their place in the flow of life itself.
Very good, if a little slight!
- Sweet Bean review by MN
This was my first Naomi Kawase film and I enjoyed it but it is very light and easygoing almost to a fault. On the whole, the film achieves a very naturalistic and understated style which I like a lot but I did find that it got a little schmaltzy in some key places - never offensively so, just a touch. The director seems to prize amateur actors and I thought they all did really well here. I've heard this is Kawase's most mainstream film so I'm looking forward to check out something a bit more challenging by her.
A lovely movie, with two great central performances from Masatoshi Nagase and the adorable Kirin Kiki as Tokue the elderly lady who makes the sweet bean paste that turns a pancake stall into a success. The Japanese are amazing at filming food, like Tampopo and Jiro dreams of Sushi, Sweet Bean captures their reverence for even the most humble of foods. The story of their friendship is gentle, melancholy and warm. It touches you and leaves you with a tear in your eye and smile on your lips.
This is a film made from true experience of humility and heartfelt warmth. Is Tokue a bodhisatva? She has a mind of beauty and compassion, of a being who devotes herself to the welfare of others . By entering the lives of the other two main characters she draws out for them their own deepest love for another human being; she reveals what it means to love. Oh yes, the bean paste is the catalyst for the story