Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Takeshi Kitano is a glutton for punishment. He writes, directs, edits and stars in his films, which, up until now, have tended to be violent gangster flicks.

His latest takes a new direction. Like the beautiful Brazilian road movie, Central Station, in which a middle-aged retired teacher accompanies a boy on a journey to find his father, Kikujiro tells of a nine-year-old lad (Yusuke Sekiguehi) from Tokyo who goes in search of his mother, accompanied by a bad-tempered, indolent petty crook, played sans frills by Takeshi.

Their troubles start when money for the trip is lost gambling on a bike race. After that they live off their wits and the generosity of strangers. In time, they learn to rely on each other and the obvious sentiment is carefully monitored. Takeshi's character remains unlikable almost until the end.

Those they meet on the road - bikers and free-thinking travellers - spend time entertaining the boy, so that when he returns to his grandmother's house, he has warm memories of a fun time.

However hard he tries, Takeshi cannot avoid the accusation that all tough guys in the movie turn out to have soft centres. Sekiguehi handles himself well, remaining resolute and somewhat bewildered.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A boy goes looking for his mum, accompanied by an intolerant thief.
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Director: Takeshi Kitano

Writer: Takeshi Kitano

Starring: Beat Takeshi, Yusuke Sekiguchi, Kayoko Kishimoto, Kazuko Yoshiyuiki

Year: 1999

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan


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Central Station