A Franco-German-Japanese production, An (Sweet Bean) is a poetic and at times sad look at how people treat each other. It critiques both the positive and the negative interactions between those in different cycles of their lives. Though we expect a story about sweetened red bean paste, An is largely about three characters; a grumpy school girl, a middle-aged man with a dark past, and an elderly woman whose whimsical personality make her endearing and adorable.

The trio’s stories are emotional and entirely human. Food is a subtext that acts as a link between lost souls, misfits, and social cast-outs. Through adzuki beans and small Japanese pancakes, two times Cannes Film Winner (Grand Prize of the Jury for The Mourning Forest /Mogari no Mori in 2007 and Camera d’Or for Moe no Suzaku in 1997) Naomi Kawase (and Durian Sukegawa, who wrote the original novel on which the film is based) treats much deeper subject matter. Kawase reveals life’s little beauties at a slow and pleasant pace. The screen sometimes fills with vast views of cherry blossoms and pretty scenery. It is then unexpected when Kawase delves into the darker parts of the characters’ lives. Though their stories are heartbreaking, the treatment is gentle and humane. It makes the viewer think about life, and the way we are linked to others through unexpected connections

An (Sweet Bean) opens at Cinema du Parc on August 5, 2016.

Official Trailer: