The Taste of Tea

"Excellent"

The Taste of Tea Review


Get ready for a heavy dose of delightful Japanese whimsy. Clocking in at two hours and 15 minutes, The Taste of Tea is long, but it floats by easily, and it never slows down. The strange incidents, quirky characters, and weird non-sequiturs just keep coming. The imagination of writer/director Katsuhito Ishii seems limitless.

This is a family tale that takes us to a rural town where the Haruno clan lives in a comfortable house surrounded by rice fields. Mom (Satomi Tezuka) is a freelance animation artist. Dad (Tomokazu Miura) is a hypnotherapist. Teenage Hajime (Takahiro Sato) races back and forth from school on his bike suffering the joys and pains of his first intense schoolboy crush. Little Sachiko's (Maya Banno) problem is stranger: the six-year-old sees a gigantic version of herself following her around all day, and she can't figure out why. It's getting on her nerves. Rounding out the group is Grandpa (Tatsuya Gashuin), an artist and would-be singer with Einstein hair who likes to listen to a tuning fork and strike martial-arts poses.

Arriving on the scene is Mom's brother, the very cool and very relaxed Uncle Ayano (Tadanobu Asano), who works as a sound mixer in the city but has come out to the sticks to clear his head and maybe reconnect with his long lost love. When he's not stretched out on the floor taking a nap, he regales the kids with bizarre stories of his childhood which they gobble up, at least until they're distracted by their own problems.

Hajime takes up the board game of Go when he finds out his crush is in the Go club. (The scene of him speeding through the fields on his bike joyously screaming "Go club! Go club!" is truly memorable.) Sachiko comes to believe that she'll shake her giant double if she can complete a backflip on the horizontal bar at an abandoned playground, where, as it turns out, she witnesses a not-quite-dead yakuza victim digging himself out of his own grave. But that's another story.

Meanwhile, Mom's anime employer, another relative, gets it in his head to record a song called "Mountain" ("Yama" in Japanese.) The lyrics: "Yama yama yama yama." Grandpa volunteers to sing along, and they head off to the city hoping that Uncle Ayano will record it for him, which he does, along with a truly trippy music video to go with it.

And life goes on. Many critics have pointed out that with its long takes and scenes of the most humble moments of domestic life, The Taste of Tea is a sort of trippy tribute to the great Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, who is known as the master of capturing Japanese family life on film. Maybe so, but that's just one of many, many layers to this sweet-natured comedy, which just keeps on shambling along until its various plot threads start to tie together in time for a bittersweet finale that features, among other things, a sunflower that blossoms to the size of a galaxy. The Taste of Tea is pure pleasure. Pour yourself some green tea, and take it all in.

Aka Cha no aji.

Amazing what a little Miracle Gro will do.



The Taste of Tea

Facts and Figures

Run time: 143 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 20th April 2005

Production compaines: Grasshoppa, Aoi Promotion

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 13

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Katsuhito Ishii

Producer: Kazuto Takida, Kazutoshi Wadakura

Starring: as Aoi Suzuishi, as Ayano Haruno - uncle, Maya Banno as Sachiko Haruno (daughter), Satomi Tezuka as Yoshiko Haruno (mother), Tomokazu Miura as Nobuo Haruno (father), Tatsuya Gashûin as Akira Todoroki (grandfather), as (as Yuriko Kikuchi), Takahiro Sato as Hajime Haruno (son), Ken'ichi Matsuyama as Young Man in Red T-Shirt, as Rokutaro Hamadayama, Tomoko Nakajima as Akira Terako, as Tattooed Man, Kotaro Shiga as Teacher Gashi, Kaiji Moriyama as Dancer, Hideaki Anno as Kasugabe, as Obaa, as Maki Hoshino, Yuka Nomura as Girl in Noodle Shop, Emi Wakui as Narrator, as CM Director


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Movie Review

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Movie Review

Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise. Along with...

Beyond the Reach Movie Review

Beyond the Reach Movie Review

With a spectacular setting and two solid actors on-screen, this thriller builds enough solid suspense...

Cub Movie Review

Cub Movie Review

At a time when horror movies seem to only want to make the audience jump,...

Inside Out Movie Review

Inside Out Movie Review

Those bright sparks at Pixar have done it again, taking a fiercely original approach to...

Advertisement
Southpaw Movie Review

Southpaw Movie Review

Slick direction and meaty performances may be enough for some viewers, but this boxing drama's...

Eden Movie Review

Eden Movie Review

Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered...

The Gallows Movie Review

The Gallows Movie Review

Without a single moment of originality, this found-footage horror movie really deserves to be the...

Self/Less Movie Review

Self/Less Movie Review

An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs...

Advertisement