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.”

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

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.