Close Knit ★★★★☆

One piece of advice before going into watching CLOSE-KNIT, bring your box of tissues, you will use them all.  It is a film that is subtle in it’s message, it does not confront you with issues, and yet is powerful in what it has to say about a non-traditional family and packs an emotional wallop in almost every scene.  The film is something new for Japanese cinema, having a trans-character represented in a positive way.

The film’s main protagonist is Tomo, an 11-year-old girl whose mother often runs away with a guy on a whim for long periods of time.  When this happens, Tomo goes to stay with her uncle, but when she goes for this time, her uncle has a new girlfriend, Rinko, who is also transgendered.  Tomo forms a bond with her uncle and his girlfriend, while also trying to understand why other people are not as accepting of her new family life.

The story unfolds at a measured, but not to slow of a pace.  Naoko Ogigami, the writer and director, manages to keep the film going without a dull moment. We get to know and feel for the main protagonists, especially that of Tomo and of Rinko.  Toma Ikuta, who plays Rinko, takes the character and embraces her softness and gentleness and her motherly love towards Tomo.  It would have been great if the character of Rinko would have been played by a transgendered actress, but Ikuta does well at playing Rinko, never making the character camp.

– Word by Russell Boaz

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