Fine, Totally Fine (Zenzen Daijobu) – A charming, quiet comedy
Jun 28, 2009
I see a lot of movies, so when something stuns me with goodness I recommend it: Fine, Totally Fine (Zenzen Daijobu) is the funniest, most touching character comedy since Sideways, but it's really not comparable to anything I can think of... it's surreal, offbeat, hilarious and completely satisfying. No wonder it won the audience award at NYAFF. The story follows a few socially inept people and how their lives intersect. There are comparisons to be made to Wes Anderson characters, but no one here is unbelievably mannered like, say, the entire cast of The Royal Tennenbaums. Fine is full of eccentrics who you'd probably pass on the street, and the performances are uniformly believable, sympathetic and fun. Fine, Totally Fine stars Yoshino Kimura, one of the few Japanese actresses to have gained some traction in Western films--she was recently seen in Blindness, and voiced a role in Kung Fu Panda. Normally called upon to play smart, powerful women, Kimura couldn't be more different here as a hapless, awkward introvert. it's a performance full of guileless charm. The whole cast is casual and great, but the other standout is Arakawa Yoshiyoshi as a sort of man-child who's oblivious to the way others see him. The easiest way to recommend a movie is by comparing it to something else, but this is in a class of its own. While doing laundry after the movie & mulling it over, the closest comparison I could make was Sideways, but not because they're similar in story or tone, but because so few movies seem to be inhabited by real people doing real things and still manage to be laugh-out-loud funny. I have a very short list of movies I recommend to people who are curious about Japanese cinema, but think Japanese film = Godzilla & ninjas [Not that Japanese film ISN'T Godzilla and ninjas--it can be!--but there's a lot more to offer, you know?]: Dog In A Sidecar, Always, Swing Girls, any Tora-san, Kamome Diner... Fine, Totally Fine will be near the top of that list for a long time. It's charming.
Addendum: I nearly forgot to mention the soundtrack, which is mellow and beautiful. It's a single theme played out different ways (a lot like Otomo Yoshihide's soundtrack for "Blue"), mostly on acoustic guitars and marimba. Maybe that's more appropriate for a separate review...?
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Eric Evans (keeperdesign)
The hours I work sometimes border on the stupid, so I'm trying to embrace any and every opportunity to connect with the right people. Life is funny: I've become more optimistic and happy as time goes … more
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