Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Cat Leaves Home (2004) Film Review
The Cat Leaves Home
Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown
We open with two slightly protracted sequences that establish a dominant, but deliberate mood of awkward, hesitant, parallel movements and actions - fine as an intellectual exercise, but so often deadly for an entertaining 90 minutes - as Suzu walks out on her boyfriend Furutu without any explanation, while Yoko prepares to housesit for Abe for the next year while she studies photography in China.
That evening, Suzu turns up on Abe's doorstep, hoping to score a place to stay while she sorts things out. Abe is happy to oblige her old schoolfriend, but Yoko is decidedly less thrilled - ever since childhood she and Suzu have had the unfortunate habit of falling for the same guys.
Still, they must learn to live together. And so for a time Suzu and Abe strive to get along and even become a bit closer, as when each gets drunk and makes a mess of their cramped, shared quarters or when Suzu tries on Yoko's glasses and Yoko suggests Suzu should also get contacts like her. The Japanese title of this film means Cat, Dog and this is how Suzu and Yoko define their relationship to one another but they are not simply opposites - a truth demonstrated when, once more, a guy comes between them with predictable results...
This debut feature from writer-director Nami Iguchi initially comes across as an exercise in combining Eric Rohmer-style improvisational naturalism with Yasujiro Ozu-style long takes and static camera formless form(alism) before displaying more self-conscious stylistic flourishes as Suzu and Yoko unwittingly reprise one another's actions.
And that's the problem. Assuming it's not just the jaded critic speaking, why does one notice this? As a result, excepting some animated cat, dog and boy credits whose two-frame crudity only adds to their charm, the film just feels too cold and distanced to be anything other than ho-hum about. This year's All About Lily Chou Chou this is not.Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2005