With a dead father and a mother who went missing, young adolescent Miko is now under the care of her uncle Goro (Joe Odagiri). A bit on the crook side, he runs a peculiar agency providing part time tenancy for apartment units where a violent death took place. The scheme is simple, since you have to notify by law the following tenant about what occurred, using a substitute tenant (Miko) for a few weeks, keeps you from the duty to inform the next lodger. Goro forbids Miko to interact with neighbors. But there is one catch : Miko can see (and interact with) the spirits left in the room. No problems, she’s already use to it. But her next assignment involves her first crime scene…
It looks like it is the year of women in Asian Cinema. So far, at this 2018 edition of Fantasia film Festival we already praised the screen presence of actresses Kim So Hee (I Have a date with Spring), Tara Bastro (Satan’s Slaves) and Eula Valdez (NeoManila). In Room Laudering, Elaiza Ikeda offers the same kind of strong and quiet performance. It is a good thing since this charming first feature, by TV director Kenji Katagiri (co-written with Tatsuya Umemoto), evolves around her character of Miko.
Room Laudering is a bitter sweet fantasy drama with numerous comedic elements. It is filled with colorful, if cartoon-like, characters reminiscence of the late Jûzô Itami (Tampopo, The Funeral). There is, of course, a certain degree of violence but it is cleverly restrain. Beyond the absurdist tale it basically is, it is often thoughtful in its presentation of solitude. It is no coincidence, screenplay-wise, that the gap created by the forced loneliness of Miko is confined to ghosts from past and present.
Fantasy, humor, idiotic anecdotes and efficient melodrama, if not perfect, ultimately bound together, with great support from Kanô Kawashima‘s music score and Shinpei Inoue’s production design (which perfectly lighten the mood) as multiple details of the story unfold through flashbacks in sweetly eccentric ways.
Fantasia Screening : Saturday July 21, 11:30 AM, Concordia University’s J.A. DeSève Cinema