Japanese filmmakers are experts at crafting gentle, touching family dramas, and My Little Sweet Pea is another fine example. Director Keisuke Yoshida has made a film that is accessible and intimate, and most viewers will be touched by the film’s tender moments, while those with active lacrimal glands may even shed a tear or two. It is not all sad, however. There is actually a good sense of humour to be appreciated here, including a fun animated sequence made by Production I.G.
Mugiko (Maki Horikita) was very young when her mother (Kimiko Yo) left her and her older brother (Matsuda Ryuhei). So when her mother, now no different from a complete stranger, returns to live with her, she feels both uncomfortable and irritated. But as she learns more and more about her mother, mostly from people who grew up in the same village, her opinion towards her mum changes and she gradually develops deep feelings towards her…
My Little Sweet Pea is a film that strongly focuses on its characters, and so the wonderful performances from the cast really help the film. Like Mugiko, audiences go from knowing nothing about the mother figure to discovering some things that help to understand the character and finally learning enough to care about her. It is as much a journey of discovery for Mugiko as it is for the viewers, and there are probably little moments in the film that will remind you of your own mothers. One thing to take home from the movie is that if you try to show your love towards your mother and it doesn’t work out as planned, don’t ever give up trying while you still have the opportunity.
The Bottom Line: My Little Sweet Pea is a little sweet piece of cinema that will remind you of your mother’s love.
(Seen at the 18th Japanese Film Festival. See their website for details.)