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Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: Someone – dreams and friendships at crosswords in Japanese job-hunting drama

A wry look at Japan’s hugely competitive job market seen through the eyes of a group of university graduates becomes a complex character study

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2017, 7:33am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2017, 7:32am

3/5 stars

There is something at once admirable and sad about the Japanese people’s dedication to work, which has spawned a somewhat uninspired salaryman ideology and the more recent taboo subject of “death by overwork”. Adapted from young author Ryo Asai’s Naoki Prize-winning novel Nanimono, Someone plays like a part-sympathetic, part-cynical prelude to that lifelong vocation, charting the job-hunting ordeals of several university students both motivated and bewildered by the ultra-competitive environment.

A passionate actor-playwright in his university years, fresh graduate Takuto (Takeru Sato, If Cats Disappeared from the World ) has made up his mind to shelve his theatre dreams and join the workforce. Often lauded by his pals as an intuitive observer, Takuto is nevertheless unsure about what to do with longtime crush Mizuki (Kasumi Arimura, Erased ), the ex-girlfriend of his roommate and good friend Kotaro (Masaki Suda, Death Note: Light Up the New World ), the singer of a hit campus band.

As they begin their job search, the trio form a casual camaraderie with former exchange student Rica (Fumi Nikaido, Scoop! ) and her freelance columnist boyfriend (Masaki Okada), whose apartment becomes a hang-out spot for the fellow job hunters (Rica has a printer, which is a major plus). But as audition notices, rejection letters and job offers slowly arrive, the film reveals itself as a complex character study in which the ensemble cast readjust their understandings about both themselves and each other.

By repeatedly intercutting between the mundane job-hunting process and emotional displays on the theatre stage, writer-director Daisuke Miura ( Love’s Whirlpool ) may have betrayed his own simplistic view of these young people’s reality and dreams. The narrative’s reliance on Takuto’s Twitter activities to flesh out characters and introduce plot twists also appears a bit convenient. Still, it’s impossible to dismiss Someone. It is a rare, thoughtful look at the ephemeral rite of passage that adults tend to forget soon enough.

Someone opens on March 2

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