Skip to main content

THE YEN FAMILY

Japan, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Yojiro Takita

The Yen Family reinforces and extends a trend in contemporary Japanese cinema whereby wealth and its effect upon traditional and human values, especially as exemplified by the family, have come under crirical examination. In this significant sense, Yojiro Takita's new film matches the achievements established by a mid-1980's pantheon of cultural hara-kiri, represented by such works as The Family Game, The Funeral, Tampopo and The Crazy Family.

The Kimura family's devotion to making money knows no bounds. Noriko (Kaori Momoi), the mother, starts her day with a series of passionate pantings that form the basis of her erotic wake-up telephone service. The vehicle which the father Hajime (Takeshi Kaga) drives to work also doubles as a taxicab which, in turn, converts into a kind of travelling dispensary or smallgoods supermarket on wheels. Other enterprises spilling out from the Kimura's home base are a catering business and courier outfit, both cheaply employing the resources of local senior citizens.

Small wonder that some visiting relatives, the Amamiyas, are dubious about the mercenary zeal of this conduct and aren't at all sure whether the ageing, fragile Mitsu (Akiko Kazami) ought to be entrusted to such 'care'. Matters are ethically (and farcically) complicated even further when the Kimuras' young boy Taro (Mitsunori Isaki) contacts the Amamiyas, complaining of his family's excessive, immoral ways.

While steering us through the Kimuras' cheerfully relentless pursuit of paying customers, Takita ( who directed the highly acclaimed Comic Magazine, keeps his crazy satire hovering on a double edge. Just as we may be amused and appalled at the monstrous Kimuras playing out a cartoon parody of corporate capitalism, why do their opposites, the right-minded Amamiyas appear so dull and repressive? Are the Kimuras genuinely avaricious and greedy or could they be driven by other more basic, potentially 'communal' instincts?

See also...

SO WHAT

... ... Yamakawa (bom in 1967) is without doubt Japan's hottest director, a Bertolucci for the 1990s whose ears ring with garage-band rock rather than Verdi arias. He's best known so far for his ... More »

ONLY YESTERDAY

Only Yesterday (Omoide Proporo) JapanStudio Ghibli co-founder Takahata Isao's second film as director for the animation company was the instant classic Only Yesterday. The biggest Japanese box-office ... More »

BRAIN MONKEY SHORTS

Brain Monkey Shorts Japan MIFF pulls together a programme of cutting-edge live action and animation shorts'a selection that could truly only come out of Japan. Films include:The Fuccons: Special ... More »

KOJI YAMAMURA: THE UNIQUE UNIVERSE OF YAMAMURA

Breathtaking in their beauty, the free-spirited and surreal animation work of Koji Yamamura has garnered much acclaim throughout the world, including a number of retrospective screenings and a ... More »

COUP D'ETAT

This study of a fascist ideologue, Ikki Kita, has become a major commercial success in Japan. It comes from an outstanding modern director, Yoshida, who earlier made Eros and Massacre. Coup d'Etat ... More »

MIND GAME

Shades of 60s New Wave experimentalism invade the anime genre in this stylish, surreal story of love, yakuza gangsters and life inside the belly of a whale. Nishi, a struggling comic writer, meets up ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director