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MRQE Top Critic

Les Choristes

The French confection Les Choristes is now available on a skimpy, movie-only DVD —Matt Anderson (DVD review...)

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Shot in the streets of Paris, Yukiko is a Japanese family drama.

Yukiko is temporarily homeless in Paris
Yukiko is temporarily homeless in Paris

A young Japanese woman, Yukiko (Harue Yamada), loses her place to stay after breaking up with her boyfriend. A newcomer to Paris, Yukiko doesn’t even speak the language. Fortunately, another Japanese émigré, Mitsue (Hiromi Asai), spots her on the corner and invites her to come in for the night, then to stay until she gets back on her feet.

Meanwhile, coincidentally, Yukiko’s mother (Katsuko Nakamura) calls to say that she has come to Paris for a short visit. Yukiko is happy for the connection to home, but her mother wants to see a certain part of the city, by herself. Yukiko follows her to find out why mom is really in Paris. It wouldn’t be a huge spoiler to say, but I’ll play along and not reveal more.

Yukiko looks like it was very cheaply made, but by a filmmaker with a good eye for color and composition. Many of the street shots in Paris are simple scenes of dialogue while the characters walk and stop. Passers-by sometimes push past the actors, and the focus is sometimes ... fluid ... which seems to reveal the hasty production.

But if Yukiko stole a few shots, it’s still a competently produced independent film. The three women make a decent ensemble, forming a tight bond in a foreign land. The script is solid, even if some of the dialogue seems more formal than natural. Some of the pauses between lines didn’t feel like thought, but delivery. A native speaker could offer a better judgment. For me, it was a minor distraction.

Yukiko isn’t an Earth-shattering movie, and you could probably find a stronger film at the 34th Denver Film Festival. But if you’re attending the fest and have an eye for Japanese culture or the streets of Paris, Yukiko is a good fit.