30 March 2013 | sharptongue
Beautiful meditation on life and marriage
This is Ken Takakura's 205th movie, and he's as good as ever. Japan's Clint Eastwood just keeps on giving.
Ken plays a senior prison officer who hands in his resignation to fulfil his wife's last wish : to have her ashes scattered at sea in her home town, some 1200 km away. Ken's boss won't accept the resignation, instead insisting that it be vacation leave. To keep him focused, his wife had letters sent to him after her death, secretly via a friend. Ken will only be able to read her final letter after scattering the ashes.
So Ken sets off in a campervan, encountering memorable characters and reflecting on his happy marriage. He changes lives and is changed. Ken is riveting, playing the part with warmth, humility and just enough clumsiness to make him real. The cast is uniformly excellent, the pace of the story gentle but never too slow, the plot compelling till the final frames. Sentimental without being sugary.