Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

The feeling of companionship that pets provide has rarely been explored with any depth. You won't find depth in Rent-a-Cat, but you'll certainly find many scenes of the madness that springs from the sheer love of pets. The film tells the story of Jamiko, a young lady who shares her life with dozens of cats - "Sometimes I wonder if I give off a smell that cats like".

Her business involves walking around town with a cart full of cats and a megaphone, trying to rent them to lonely customers. These customers are an eclectic lot: from a fed-up businessman to a cynical liar and thief. An old lady, looking for a replacement for her old tabby cat is the single most loveable granny in moviedom, outside of Studio Ghibli. Jamiko's "inspections" (since "some jerks like to mistreat animals") are lovely scenes. The characters' interplay, mutual respect and overwhelming joy at being accepted made my heart swell in delighted awe.

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The film feels like the concatenation of three manga stories, with simple, elegant framing and direct storytelling. That, in itself, is an issue; there are overt repeated storytelling beats that become tiresome after a while. There are thin, half-hearted efforts at unifying the stories. Other than this, it's a juicy, universal (yet quintessentially Japanese) fantasy.

I'm a dog person. Dogs barely get a mention. That's okay. It's all about the love we all have to give. Rent-a-Cat is a rich, cheerful and fluffy piece of fun, which will doubtless spawn many canhazcheezburgers.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2012
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A young woman rents out cats to lonely people.

Director: Naoko Ogigami

Writer: Naoko Ogigami

Starring: Mikako Ichikawa, Reiko Kusamura, Ken Mitsuishi, Maho Yamada, Kei Tanaka

Year: 2012

Runtime: 110 minutes

Country: Japan


BIFF 2012
EIFF 2012

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The Cat Pact