Sweet Bean (2015)

Naomi Kawase’s graceful, delicate and compassionate drama Sweet Bean was selected to open Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2015.

Sweet Bean is the name given to a delicious red paste in the middle of the dorayaki pancakes that Sentaro sells from his bakery to a small but loyal clientele. A remote man, absorbed in difficult memories, Sentaro cooks with skill but without much enthusiasm. When eccentric 76 year old Tokue responds to his ad for an assistant, cheerfully agreeing to work for minimal pay, Sentaro is skeptical about her abilities.

But when she shows up early one morning and reveals to him the secret to the perfect sweet bean paste, he agrees to take her on.

Gorgeously shot and wonderfully performed, Kawase balances elements of sadness and tragedy against those of hope and wisdom in this gentle, unassuming but profoundly affecting tale.

This film is in Japanese with English subtitles.

“The movie, beautifully shot and acted, earns its ultimate sense of hope by confronting real heartbreak head-on, and with compassion” – New York Times

“sweet but not cloying” – The Guardian ★★★★