Sooner or later, many Japanese directors — be they internationally acclaimed auteurs or industry outsiders — end up making what Sion Sono (a noted auteur/outsider himself) once described to me as “a real Japanese film.” To put it simply, this sort of film is aimed squarely at the domestic audience, especially folks looking for a good cry.

Naomi Kawase is a Cannes Film Festival regular whose work to date has often taken an autobiographical slant — in her 2003 film “Sharasoju” (“Shara”), she played a woman graphically giving birth, which foreshadowed her own real-life pregnancy. But her newest film, “An” (literally, “Red-Bean Jam”), which opened the Cannes Un Certain Regard sidebar this year, is one of these “real Japanese films.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.