There’s a gentle message about tolerance wrapped inside Sweet Bean (An), a touching Japanese movie revolving around a small pancake café in suburban Tokyo. Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase), the café’s sad middle-aged manager reluctantly hires eager 76-year-old woman Tokue (Kirin Kiki) to be his assistant. Surprisingly, her recipe for red bean paste, the filling for dorayaki pancakes, proves an immediate hit with customers, including misfit teenager Wakana (Kyara Uchida). But things change when rumours about her begin to spread. Director Naomi Kawase deftly handles her themes of loneliness, social stigma and the joy of finding a purpose in life, and her story’s resolution is bittersweet but uplifting.
Certificate PG. Runtime 113 mins. Director Naomi Kawase
Sweet Bean is available on Digital and on Dual Format (Blu-ray & Digital) in the Masters of Cinema series from Eureka Entertainment.