Kikujiro (1999)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Coming-of-Age, Odd Couple Film, Road Movie  |   Release Date - May 26, 2000 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 122 min.  |   Countries - Japan   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Synopsis by Gönül Dönmez-Colin

After the success of Hana-Bi (1997), Takeshi Kitano, or 'Beat' Takeshi, as he is often called, made another film in which once again he is the director, screenwriter, editor, the leading player and the talent behind the art work. Unlike many of his films about the violent lives of the yakuza, Kikujiro is a bittersweet road movie about two characters who have very little in common. Masao (Yusuke Sekiguchi) is a sensitive nine-year-old boy who has to spend his summer vacation alone with his grandmother. Soccer practice is suspended and all his friends are away at the beach. In his boredom, he decides to look for the mother he has never met; with only a photo, an address, and very little money, this does not seem like a good idea. A friend of his grandmother's volunteers to send her husband along. The problem is that the irresponsible, loudmouthed, and greedy Kikujiro (Kitano), a low-level yakuza, is hardly the ideal companion for a child. He does not even like children. Starting with the excursion to the cycle races, this mismatched couple goes through a fanciful journey full of oddball characters and pleasant surprises. The best surprise of all is to discover how much they have in common. By the end of the journey, sullen Masao gains the sense of magic that had been missing from his life. As for Kikujiro, he now has a better understanding of who he is and what has been wrong with his life, although it takes a child to make him realize this. Kitano has declared that his own father, who passed away when he was a little boy, was the inspiration for the character of Kikujiro. The man was a house painter, carpenter, and master of traditional Japanese dance, but also a gambler who let his family down on many occasions. Another Japanese director, Makoto Shinozaki of Okaeri fame, has made Jam Session, a feature-length documentary on the making of Kikujiro. In competition at the 52nd Cannes Film Festival, 1999.



boy, friendship, gangster, grandmother, search, soccer, father, mother