Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: Survival Family – Shinobu Yaguchi’s scathing satire on Japan’s generational divide

Waterboys director has fun pointing out modern society’s dependence on technology and its impact on family life, in this story of a couple and their children caught in a power cut that forces them to leave home and seek help

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 5:15pm

3.5/5 stars

A scathing satire on the modern family and the lack of connection between generations, writer-director Shinobu Yaguchi’s Survival Family also speculates humorously about our technological dependency and inability to fend for ourselves in the outside world.

Japanese cinema is obsessed with stories that expose the generational divide, reprimanding the young for neglecting traditional values and their cultural heritage. In this film, Yaguchi graciously suggests that the older generation of housewives and salarymen are equally guilty, enslaved by their jobs and beholden to their household appliances.

When a sudden, unexplained power cut wipes out everything from electrical and utility services to mobile phones and even cars, families across Japan are forced to abandon their homes in search of help.

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For the Suzuki family this proves especially challenging, as work, school, the internet and television have seen them drift apart from one another: for the first time in years, Yoshiyuki (Fumiyo Kohinata) must step up and be a real patriarch for his wife (Eri Fukatsu) and teenage children (Yuki Izumisawa and Wakana Aoi).

Yaguchi has found success many times in the past, with films such as Waterboys, Swing Girls and Wood Job!. This continues in Survival Family, which strikes a winning balance between domestic comedy and sweeping satirical jabs at how technology keeps us apart and robs us of our more primal skills.

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The film has plenty of fun with the pseudo-sci-fi apocalyptic set-up, before inevitably reinforcing the importance of family support and active engagement with the world around us.

Survival Family opens on September 14

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