Would anyone in Hollywood now green-light a film with a quirky middle-aged heroine whose passion is making and detonating bombs? Especially one with no apologies for her explosive past, human collateral included? I can imagine the tremors at the pitch meeting when someone says the dreaded word "terrorist."

Yet playwright/director Shiro Maeda has not only scripted and shot "Kako: My Sullen Past," his new film featuring a bomb maker, but has also adroitly steered it between the rocks of twee comedy and furrow-browed social drama.

Seeing the film for the second time, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan with Maeda and star Fumi Nikaido present, I was struck again by its one-of-a-kind sensibility, blending borderline surrealism and offbeat observational humor. I also found new layers within the layers of funny bits and punchy dialogue, revealing connections and meanings that go beyond easy laughs at the characters' many oddities, if not the bomb maker Mikiko's mysteries.