Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: The Kodai Family - Haruka Ayase meets a mind-reading dreamboat in live-action comic adaptation

What happens when you marry into a family of mind-readers, and how do you and your lover guard your private thoughts? It’s a great premise that this film fails to properly explore or exploit

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 10:13am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 3:33pm

2.5/5 stars

In The Kodai Family, Haruka Ayase plays a perpetual daydreamer who must decide whether she should marry into a family with mind-reading abilities. Directed by Masato Hijikata ( The After-Dinner Mysteries ), this live-action adaptation of a popular Japanese comic begins as an endearing comedy about the psychology of romance, before switching tone and morphing into a laborious will-she-won’t-she melodrama with few surprises to offer.

When the socially awkward office worker Kie (Ayase) first comes across Mitsumasa (Takumi Saito) – heir to the company she works at and the aristocratic Kodai family’s eldest son, who has secretly inherited the mind-reading power of his British grandmother (Charlotte Kate Fox) – she develops all types of wacky fantasies, without realising that those very silly thoughts have already won over the telepathic Mitsumasa.

After the pair start dating, the inarticulate Kie is shocked that Mitsumasa understands her every move, and her whimsical mind also becomes a source of amusement for Mitsumasa’s younger sister (Kiko Mizuhara) and brother (Shotaro Mamiya). Once they decide to marry, however, Kie begins to feel uneasy about Mitsumasa’s condescending mother (Mao Daichi), as well as the prospect of retaining zero privacy for her mind – why hasn’t she thought of that before?

As a romantic fable, The Kodai Family is stimulating in the way it revolves around the limits of privacy that lovers wish to retain for their most private thoughts. It’s a pity that, after establishing the transfixing premise, the film ends up merely going through the motions, waiting on nothing other than Kie’s change of heart. In a film that ponders the boundaries of mental intimacy like few others have, it’s a cop-out to simply assert that love conquers all.

The Kodai Family opens on December 8

Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook