In a conservative country like Japan, the traditional family plays a central role. Whilst attitudes are changing rapidly, there’s still a lot of emphasis placed on the nuclear family. This duty of care is broadened to looking after the old and infirm. When someone become sick it’s the responsibility of their family to take care of them. Whilst this familial connection is stronger than in the West, it’s also beginning to gradually ebb away. As Kore-Eda’s beautiful Shoplifters so magnificently demonstrated, families don’t have to be connected by blood. Ryôta Nakano’s new film Her Love Boils Bathwater is another extraordinary tale.
When her husband suddenly left, Futaba (Rie Miyazawa) had to close their bathhouse and has been struggling to make ends meet ever since. She lives frugally with her teenage daughter Azumi (Hana Sugisaki) getting by as best she can. However, when a doctor diagnoses her with terminal cancer Futaba realises things have to change. She sets about tracking down her estranged husband (Joe Odagiri) and puts all her energies into ensuring her daughter has a future.
Her Love Boils Bathwater is a sweet and heart-warming film about the power of love and the lengths a mother will go to in order to look after her child. It’s a perfectly pitched and highly emotive drama which is meticulously and lovingly crafted. There are great performances all-round and surprises around every corner. It’s the kind of film which can be found in Japanese cinema throughout the ages. It’s unique to their culture. A warm and uplifting experience.
Her Love Boils Bathwater screens at venues across the UK during February and March as part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme.