Netflix review: Watch It Now or Skip itTokyo is now Mope City.
Netflix movie We Couldn't Become Adults adapts an acclaimed novel by Japanese author Moegara about a melancholy 40-something man looking back on the previous 25 years of his life. The thoughtful drama about character was directed by Yoshihiro Moi, and Mirai Muriyama stars. It has been slipped in Netflix's menus without much fanfare. Let's check if you can type a lot of characters into the search bar.
The Gist Sato(Moriyama), isn't in a relationship breakup. But the question is: Which one? As he roams aimlessly down a Tokyo street, mid-Covid pandemic with Nanase (Atsushi Shimohara), we meet him. The two of them fall into piles of grimy trash bags. Nanase is reminded by Sato of something he once said. 80 percent of people, as he put it, are trash, while 20 percent are scum. However, Lou says that they are quite drunk.
Sato is in a state, or a place, maybe a snit — a mid-life snit of some kind. Sato is glum, discontent. He is single and feels depressed. He is depressed and works hard, and maybe drinks too much. He laments that he is 46 years old and has become a boring adult. A Facebook friend request is received from an ex-girlfriend. He's prompted to search for psychic debris and gaze into the craters that were left behind by his old girlfriend. The actor works backwards: 2015, 2011, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995. It all stops here because Moriyama, the actor, can only live so long before he starts looking old. He's writing his autobiography, and the years appear on screen. Each recollection is framed by a larger event, such as the devastating earthquakes or the poor performance of Japan in the World Cup. This makes perfect sense considering he's a graphic designer for television news programs and works long hours.
Sato's story is made up of a few anecdotes. Sato attends a party to promote a TV series, at which he meets a professional dancer. He then spends a sad and unsatisfying night together. He has a brief affair with a sweet lady who, soon, learns that she is sex worker. A meeting with an abusive client at work. Interview with Sekiguchi, Masahiro Higashide, his friend and longtime boss. A scooter crash when he was hurriedly delivering floppy disks full of graphics in the pre-high-speed-internet age. Co-workers enjoyed nights drinking at the bar, which is run by Nanase. Nanase seems to be in love with Sato. The story of Kaori (Sairi) Ito, who he first met at 21 and with whom he sent the friend request. He had a lovely night with her in an outer-space themed room in a "love hotel" which he often returns to because it gives him security in his sexuality.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Well, Sato is a Gen-X Eeyore if I've ever seen one.
A film worth watching: Higashide, Shinohara and other supporting actors give the film the energy it requires to paint the one-note character that the protagonist is.
Memorable Dialog: Kaori neatly sums up the main theme of the film's movie: "When I'm sad, I feel happy."
Skin and Sex: A brief lady's toplessness, while the real action takes place beneath the covers during an extremely tasteful scene of sex.
We take Sato considers it a terrible insult to be called "ordinary". He rebels against the notion of ordinariness, which is what ties together his many life vignettes. He now often uses the term to himself. His job offers only marginal satisfaction. He is stuck in a rut and refuses to go out for a drink. Sato may be a good example of someone who finds too much work frustrating. However, it is possible to empathize with him by watching him spin around for 25 years. Sato broods and sulks. He also jams his microscope lens into his navel to count the lint fibers. Talk with someone. You can take a pill. GET OVER YOURSELF BRO.
While I do not intend to ignore or minimize Sato's depression struggles, We Can't Become Adults is a muffled rumination about Gen-X midlife crises. Dude, you were able to get a job, marry, and have children LIKE A TOTAL SELLOUT. This means that Sato did not achieve the ideal balance between youth and mature age as many people strive to. Why? But why? This didn't happen. She is living an "ordinary" life on Facebook like millions of other people. He can't escape it.
The film builds to Sato and Kaori's meeting — two shy, withdrawn people who were pen pals and soon experience their first real love affairs. The film is a series of awkward and tender encounters that plays like an emo-manga. It doesn't have much drama here and makes Sato's thoughts on the wasted life ineffective and thin. This film is more of a warning tale for children than an adult nostalgia-and regret saga. Director Mori is a visual artist who captures the environment. He also finds poetic touches to enhance a few moments. For example, Sato feels more isolated when the streets of a pandemic-affected, quiet city are portrayed as a metaphor for his isolation. To see the beauty of the world, he must clear his dark cloud. He needs to get on with his life. Two hours of somber reflections by him are no more than an interminable drag.
We Call: SAVE IT. You Can't Be an Adult may not be as ordinary as you think, but it's as impactful as it can get.
Will you stream or skip the moody Gen-X Japanese drama #WeCouldntBecomeAdults on @netflix?
— Decider (@decider) November 9, 2021
John Serba, a writer freelancer and film critic is located in Grand Rapids (Michigan). You can read more about his work on johnserbaatlarge.com, or you can follow him Twitter at @johnserba.
Netflix: You Can't Be an Adult