Hebiichigo (2003)

Run Time - 108 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Josh Ralske

The Akechi family is a quietly unhappy one. Yoshiro (Sei Hiraizumi), the breadwinner, has lost his job, but he keeps it a secret, leaving the house each day and returning late at night, and borrowing money to keep his family in the dark. Akiko (Naoko Otani), his wife, spends her days taking care of Yoshiro's senile father, Kimiko (Moeko Ezawa). She doesn't complain, but she's losing her hair from the stress. Tomoko (Miho Tsumiki) is their daughter, a bright and responsible schoolteacher. She's dating a fellow teacher, Kamata (Toru Tezuka), from a wealthy family. The family's fa├žade of happiness begins to crumble when Kimiko dies. At the rather lavish funeral, Yoshiro is embarrassed by an obnoxious loan shark demanding payment. Tomoko runs into Shuji (Hiroyuki Miyasako), her good-for-nothing brother, who was kicked out of the house years ago. Shuji claims he's there for his grandfather's funeral and scares off the loan shark by pretending to be Yoshiro's lawyer. But now that the family knows he's broke, recriminations fly. As the family's false veneer of tranquility is shattered, Shuji suggests a scheme to solve their financial problems, and Tomoko questions her brother's true motives. Wild Berries is the first feature film from writer/director Miwa Nishikawa. She had previously served as an assistant to director Hirokazu Kore-eda (After Life). Wild Berries was shown at New Directors/New Films in 2003.