Friday, 24 December 2010


A subtly complex story about class values in Japan, Sincerity concerns the friendship of two schoolgirls from different backgrounds. Nobuko lives with her parents in a lavish, state-of-the-art house where she is given what she wants, while Tomiko shares a very modest house with her seamstress mother Tsutako, the father figure noticeably absent. When Nobuko gets a middling report card, her mother consults the teacher who advises her to take after Tsutako’s style of raising a child. As the teacher continues his favouritism towards Tomiko, Nobuko’s father loses his temper and before long, a devastating secret is revealed that could destroy both families.

At little over an hour, it’s not the most memorable of films and is unlikely to ever sit amongst Japanese classics, but Sincerity is nonetheless an interesting slice of drama with a timeless social dilemma at its heart. All of the characters in Sincerity are given a fair amount of screentime as the problem here affects everyone. Intimate close-ups, as in Naruse’s earlier Avalanche, echo the intensity of emotions. Playing against type, the strongest of Naruse’s characters are the two children, Nobuko and Tomiko, whose insistent questioning about the structure of family drive the narrative through its peaks and troughs – in fact, the girls appear to understand a little too much about relationships given their age for the story to be completely convincing. Perhaps most notable about the film is that the war context becomes little more than a plot detail in the context of family values.

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