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Japanese movies and TV dramas often feature scenes of mothers making elaborate bento lunches from scratch for their offspring. Seeing these women washing rice in icy water with bare hands before the crack of dawn I reflect back to my own school lunches of PB&J or bologna sandwiches, assembled in minutes by my mother and devoured in even less time by me. Since the other kids brought similar comestibles from home, I had little cause for envy — or pride.

The heroine of Renpei Tsukamoto’s family comedy, “Bento Harassment,” is not the usual Japanese mother laboring over bento as an act of love — or so her smiley-faced wieners will make her kid’s classmates “Ooh” and “Aah.” A single mom living on Hachijojima, an island nearly 300 kilometers south of Tokyo, Kaori (Ryoko Shinohara) holds down two jobs to support her teenage daughter, Futaba (Kyoko Yoshine), but the girl barely deigns to acknowledge her existence, let alone help around the house.

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