An old-fashioned coffee house serves up a dash of mystery and a great dollop of sentiment in Ayuko Tsukahara’s “Cafe Funiculi Funicula.” Based on a pair of best-selling novels by playwright-turned-author Toshikazu Kawaguchi, this aggressively tear-jerky paean to life, death and past regrets plays like a combination of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “After Life” and Netflix’s “Midnight Diner” without the charm or subtlety of either.
At the titular cafe, customers who sit in a particular chair and order a cup of coffee from doe-eyed waitress Kazu (Kasumi Arimura) can be transported back in time to relive a past encounter they had at the shop. There are caveats attached, though — the most important being that they have to wrap things up within the time limit specified by the film’s Japanese title, which translates as “Before the Coffee Gets Cold.”
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