Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: Pale Moon - Japanese bubble-economy fable

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2015, 10:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 May, 2015, 2:21pm


Starring: Rie Miyazawa,  Sosuke Ikematsu,  Satomi Kobayashi

Director: Daihachi Yoshida

Category: III (Japanese) 

An absorbing tale of crime and non-punishment set after the bursting of Japan's bubble economy, Pale Moon follows a neglected housewife and bank worker who suddenly finds happiness in her life through unethical and illegal means.

Adapted by Daihachi Yoshida (The Kirishima Thing) from Mitsuyo Kakuta's gently subversive novel, the film takes a non-judgmental view of the financial and sexual liberation of Rika Umezawa (Rie Miyazawa), who veers away from her supposed social role as an obedient wife and a kindly investment adviser.

When she is showered with attention by Kota (Sosuke Ikematsu), the purportedly debt-ridden grandson of a client who refuses to help with his college tuition fees, the lonely Rika is spurred on to start a lusty affair with a man half her age, and also to embezzle from his miserly grandfather.

In what she considers justified acts of wealth redistribution, Rika subjects many more of her rich, elderly clients to similar scams despite her supervisor's (Satomi Kobayashi) mounting suspicion, while also living a luxurious life with Kota behind the back of her often absent husband (Tanabe Seiichi).

Although all good things must come to an end, Pale Moon leaves behind a trail of morally ambiguous issues that range from the illusory appeal of money to the dubious politics of giving, highlighted by flashbacks to an early scene where Rika, as a Catholic schoolgirl, was admonished for an irregular act of philanthropy.

Pale Moon opens on May 21