In the first fifteen minutes of this film, my only regret then (and throughout the whole movie) was that I went into this movie slightly hungry. By the end, I was ravenous and the only reason I wasn't embarrassed by my salivating mouth and the grumbling of my stomach was that there was an audible concurrence from the rest of the (packed) theater.
Little Forest is actually a four-hour quartet film developed from a manga of the same name by Daisuke Igarashi. Ichiko (Ai Hashimoto) moves back to her small childhood home in a Japanese hamlet where the nearest grocery store is the next town over. This quiet movie takes us through a different season each hour and gives us a different set of dishes for each season as Ichiko lives simply, drawing culinary inspiration from her surroundings and memories that crowd her cooking.
This movie certainly has some cutesy moments. The music is mostly fluff and director Junichi Mori wisely cuts it away completely in the moments Ichiko enjoys the food she's created, allowing us the full tactile experience of it: the crunch of fried panko crumbs, the swallow of a refreshing rice cocktail down her throat, and the crackle of a freshly baked bread. There doesn't seem to be much in terms of narrative cohesion, but that's just because of the savored drawn-out pace of it. There's plenty to glean from the memories Ichiko chooses to share with us and the bare conversations that are weighted with meaning.
Little Forest is probably one of my favorites of SIFF thus far. If you're able to catch it, they are doing one more showing of it at SIFF Uptown this Saturday, May 23rd.
Playing at SIFF
May 18 - 6:30 PM (SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival)
May 24 - 12 PM (SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival)