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A Boy and his Samurai ("Chonmage Purin")

Quebec Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2010
  • 108 mins
  • HD
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
WINNER: Audience Award, Fantastic Fest 2011

“A perfect little package that will have you smiling ear to ear” — Germain Lussier, SLASHFILM

“A primo alternative to any Hollywood fare out there… take a chance on this one!” — Ben Umstead, TWITCHFILM

“A bundle of genuinely funny scenes, low-key but poignant fantasy and — most importantly — likable characters” — Robert Saucedo, INDIE PULSE

Harried single mother Hiroko and her sensitive son Tomoya are hurrying to the lad’s school one day when an odd sight stops the boy in his tracks. A man in classic samurai garb, complete with topknot and swords, stands at the doorway of a local food market. Probably a promotional gimmick for the store, they think, and move on. They’re soon to find out how wrong they are, though. This stern and stiff-backed young man, Kajima Yasube, is lost, terribly lost. Oh, he’s certainly in his hometown, Tokyo — it’s just that he knows it as Edo. Unstuck in time and hurled two centuries into the future, Kajima is hungry, scared and confused. Hiroko offers him shelter, and Tomoya latches onto his new role model. Kajima repays the favour with diligent housework while adjusting to the social and technological realities of the 21st century. Before long, he’s found a more ambitious and worthy purpose for a samurai warrior in a brave new world. Bodyguard? Assassin? Nope — try pastry chef!

The creator of the loopy punk-song-save-the-world gem FISH STORY and the quirky conspiracy piece GOLDEN SLUMBER, director Yoshihiro Nakamura has already shown Fantasia audiences his knack for really smart, empathic and just a bit off-kilter moviemaking. With his adaptation of Gen Araki’s popular manga, Nakamura dips into the feelgood family movie genre and comes up with an intriguing winner. The medieval warrior in the modern world isn’t unexplored terrain — recall THE VISITORS with Jean Reno — but Nakamura avoids broad farce in favour of a thoughtful, nuanced and emotionally rich examination of personal purpose and interpersonal bonds. Which isn’t to say that A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI lacks loads of laugh-out-loud moments (and be advised to snack beforehand, lest the pastry-making episodes have you dashing out for sugary treats!). TV idol Ryo Nishikido is a delight as the rigidly disciplined yet vulnerable Kajima, contending with women in the workplace and the menace of ringing cell phones. Engaging, convincing, entertaining and genuinely touching throughout, A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI wraps up with a satisfying conclusion that’s — ahem — the icing on the cake.

— Rupert Bottenberg