And So The Baton has two different moods. And it’s just the first thing about the film that is a hard sell but yes, it’s a sell. The first half also feels like a jaunty comedy. That’s despite of some heavy subjects that walk the line of disbelief. It also introduces the characters. The first pair includes a teenager, Yuko (Mei Nagano). Her father, Morimya (Kei Tanaka) tells her that he has to marry her off.
Maybe Morimiya needs better phrasing. The second pair of characters include a girl, Miitan, who goes through some stepparents, which is obviously not her fault. The most memorable of those stepparents is Rika (Satomi Ishihara), who makes her childhood kinda unstable. The jaunty tone of the first half suggests that the two pairs of characters intersect. Without spoilers, that intersection is shocking and there is more to the movie than that!
I’m this kind of critic. So let’s start with the bad things that are in addition to the things I already listed above. Sure, the characters feel subversive, especially with Rika being on the top 50 percentile of stepmother characters. She loves Miitan but not enough to manipulate her and leave for reasons that the Baton eventually explains. The film also compares her character to Morimiya as a pushover, as if both exist within gender stereotypes.
What saves the Baton is the explanation of Rika’s character. Another line that the film walks delicately on is the one between manipulation and genuine emotion. And it somehow land son the latter. It also shows how Rika’s actions cause a ripple effect onto Yuko’s life, giving her a sense of self. Nagano, in the second half, conveys Yuko’s rage and sadness and many emotions. Despite of everything, this film shows life’s complexities in its own ways.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Drama
- Release Date: 6/23/2022
- Directed by: Tetsu Maeda
- Starring: Kei Tanaka, Mei Nagano, Satomi Ishihara
- Written by: Hiroshi Hashimoto
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