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Based on a short story by Misumi Kubo, Rikiya Imaizumi’s “Skeleton Flowers” is a smorgasbord of contemporary Japanese movie themes. There’s a coming-of-age story about an artsy teenage girl, a love triangle involving the protagonist and two friends, and a family drama focusing on her father’s remarriage and her first encounter with her birth mother after many years apart.

Keeping the film from becoming a jumble are Imaizumi’s sure, understated direction, Kaori Sawai’s artfully structured script and a strong, centered performance by newcomer Sara Shida as the lead. The prolific Imaizumi — he released three films last year alone — has acquired a following in Japan for relationship stories about young adults in the big city. Scripted with naturalistic dialogue, unfolding at a relaxed pace and filled with pointed observations about the pitfalls of modern love, Imaizumi’s films seem to reflect the lives of its arthouse audience, similar to the way Woody Allen’s films once spoke to Manhattanites.

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