Out (2002)

Genres - Comedy  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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Four women -- Masako (Mieko Harada of Akira Kurosawa's Dreams), Yoshie (Mitsuko Baisho of Warm Water Under a Red Bridge), Kuniko (Shigeru Muroi), and the younger, pregnant Yayoi (Naomi Nishida) -- work at a bento box factory, carefully packaging pre-made lunches into sterile little boxes, while dressed in white protective suits. Their home lives don't bring much more happiness than their tedious jobs. Masako lives with her unappreciative unemployed husband and sullen, uncommunicative son. Yoshie spends her off hours taking care of her cranky, dying mother-in-law (her husband has long since died), while Kuniko runs up a huge debt buying designer clothes she can't afford. Yayoi has it the worst, though. Her husband drinks and gambles away all their money, then comes home and beats her. One morning after, something snaps and Yayoi strangles him in his sleep. Soon, she's engaged her three reluctant friends in helping her dispose of the body. Through this unpleasant experience, the women all find reserves of strength they didn't know they had. But a panicked Kuniko gets sloppy and dumps body parts in the local cemetery. Soon, the police are questioning a vicious gangster, Satake (Kanpei Hazama), about the husband's gambling debts. Meanwhile, Masako finds herself being wooed by Kuniko's loan shark, Jumonji (Teruyuki Kagawa of Devils on the Doorstep), who wants to get out of the lending business, and has a few unsavory ideas about how he and the women might make some money. Out, based on the novel by Natsuo Kirino, was directed by Hideyuki Hirayama, and was Japan's official entry for the 2003 Foreign Language Oscar. The film had its North American premiere at Subway Cinema's 2003 New York Asian Film Festival.