Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In short: A Lonely Cow Weeps At Dawn (2003)

The farmer Sukichi (Horyu Nakamura) works his small farm alone with his daughter-in-law Noriko (Ryoko Asagi). Both are widowed, and both are, without ever telling the other, very much in love with each other. Sukichi doesn't speak of it because he is ashamed and Noriko because she sees him slowly slipping into senile dementia.

It's a very particular case of senility, mostly connected with Sukichi forgetting that his favourite cow Hanako has been dead for quite some time now. Still he gets up every morning and milks her. Or so he thinks. In truth, Noriko stands in for the cow as a way to show her affection for the old man.

Their peculiar idyll is broken when Sukichi's daughter Mitsuko (Yumeka Sasaki) comes for her first visit in ten years, looking for something she probably couldn't explain herself.

An old fuck buddy of Mitsuko who has been trying to talk Sukichi into selling his farm for quite some time now talks her into helping him to acquire the farm in less than legal ways.

Despite the rather pervy sounding woman milking concept, Daisuke Goto's A Lonely Cow Weeps At Dawn comes down on the more tasteful side of pinku cinema. Goto presents the cow-stand-in business in such a laconic way, with a mixture of sympathy and a wink that one would have to be very conservative to get riled up about it. There's a welcome matter-of-factness about much of the film, a sense of reality that seems anchored in the subtle naturalness of the acting performances.

Sympathy with its characters (even the shady arseholes among them), slight irony detachment and the melancholy of lost chances lie at A Lonely Cow's emotional core, all embedded in and strengthened through simple seeming nature shots and a quality of light that suggests autumn.

Of course, melancholy and a spring/autumn romance that doesn't dare to blossom isn't enough when it comes to getting the mandatory number of sex scenes into your film. Goto puts most of the sweatier parts in the hands (well, more or less) of the side characters. The film shows a very un-pinku-like warm sense of humor in their sex scenes. Goto at once uses this to deepen the characterization and to poke friendly fun at genre conventions.

One of the sub-plots between a veterinarian and his vet nurse also shows a romance between an older man and a younger woman that doesn't have to end in renunciation like the main plot does, putting the sad ending between Sukichi and Noriko into the realm of choice rather than destiny.


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