Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2019: Our Review of ‘Koi no Shizuku’

Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2019: Our Review of ‘Koi no Shizuku’

Shiori  (Rina Kawaei) is a urban wine enthusiast and university student who has declared her utter dislike for sake. Koi no Shizuku, or For Love’s Sake establishes that character trait. It also sets up the expectation that life finds a way to thrust ‘reviled’ concepts towards the fictional characters who dislike them. Therefore, Shiori gets to encounter some sake.

Specifically, instead of getting an internship at Bourdeax, Shiori’s professor assigns her an internship at a sake brewery near Hiroshima. Most of the people at the brewery are cantankerous men of all ages who call her names, tough love style. But she gets an ally in one of the brewers, Misaki  (Mao Miyaji), who knows a lot about sake.

This should be great and everything, but the flaws here start from the way For Love’s Sake writes Shiori’s character. She is both a bratty urbanite and someone who respects Japanese tradition. Which, as an Asian, this is a contradiction I’ll otherwise buy. Too bad the movie doesn’t sell it, as much as Kawaei tries to act that out.

Misaki and the other brewers make up for a zany set of characters who Shiori eventually grow to love. Thing is, For Love’s Sake eventually loses the balance between Shiori and these brewers. It stops being about her and the movie starts using her as an audience substitute. There’s too much focus on the conflicts surrounding her new reluctant boss, Kanji (Hayato Onozuka).

The movie also unleashes the stereotype about suburban or rural Japanese as love struck people who like to drink. Many scenes involve public sake drinking sessions where characters eventually profess truths that they have been hiding from each other. In vino veritas, as they say, but these scenes feel like they’re clutching on plot devices instead of organically unfolding.


  • Release Date: 6/20/2019
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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