Sweating the Small Stuff
Edaha no koto
Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
Built like a fireplug and about as talkative, 27-year-old Ryutaro works in a garage in Yokohama. He is introduced while walking, and his compact strides, arms swinging back and forth—the grand repetitive gesture of this film—is a physical manifestation of a man forcing his way through a thick fog of a life that he feels is without greater purpose. Though director and actor Ninomiya Ryutaro (a Dragons & Tigers award winner for The Charm of Others) appears in almost every single frame of his extremely confident second independent feature—based on true events—we’re never quite sure what, if anything, he’s truly thinking.
Over the course of a weekend, Ryutaro’s existence is revealed, both in terms of his typical routine—drinking with useless friends, hooking up with a waitress, getting beat up—and one exceptional encounter: he decides to visit Ryuko, the mother of an old friend, who is dying from Hepatitis C. Ninomiya is reluctant in general to show his hand, but one assumes that the friend’s mom acted as a surrogate parent. Almost all the film’s older characters are ailing, and this societal sickness leaks down to the youth, who spend their free time poisoning their own bodies, having long since abandoned their dreams. Only in a few moments does the nihilistic Ryutaro show his anger, and the words he spits out reverberate.