In the shadows of their bedroom, a Japanese power couple — actor-director Yûsuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and screenwriter Oto Kafuku (Reika Kirishima) — take advantage of their post-coital glow to hatch an idea for a T.V. pilot. She is always with him; while driving, he runs lines off a tape of Uncle Vanya that she recorded for him. One day, he furtively happens upon Oto making love to her young protege Kôji (Masaki Okada) and says nothing. Two years after a cerebral hemorrhage takes Oto’s life, Yûsuke accepts an Artist-in-Residence position to direct Chekhov’s tragedy-tinged comedy. There are scars in life that refuse to heal. He still listens to Oto’s tape, and would prefer to drive himself. But a fatal accident involving another visiting dignitary adds a contractual provision for the services of driver Misaki Watari (Tôko Miura) that is non-negotiable. (If they go to the expense of hiring a driver, why not supply a car as well?) A master at mounting multilingual productions, Yûsuke can’t find the words needed to make sense of his own life. Add to that the appearance of Kôji’s headshot in the stack of audition forms, and an unexpected bonding with Misaki... all that’s missing is a will to survive. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy) takes us on an unnecessarily long ride that is ultimately a journey worth taking. (2021) — Scott Marks
This movie is not currently in theaters.