This captivating drama from director Kôji Fukada (A Girl Missing) traces a couple’s journey through their respective romantic pasts, boldly exploring what it means to accept your spouse — and yourself — as a complete person.
Contemporary World Cinema
A tangled web of romantic histories is vividly surveyed in this captivating new feature from Japanese director Kôji Fukada, last at the Festival with 2019’s A Girl Missing. Tracing a couple’s journey through grief, confusion, and fulfillment, Love Life boldly explores what it means to accept your spouse — and yourself — as a complete person.
Taeko (Fumino Kimura) and Jiro (Kento Nagayama) are a happy, ordinary couple in their thirties with parallel careers in social services and an adorable, precocious six-year-old son. To look at them, you would never guess that the story of their union would be so fraught, yet unresolved complications from their respective pasts emerge and demand to be reckoned with. They plan a surprise 65th birthday party for Jiro’s father, but he’s so disapproving of Taeko that he can barely look at her. Meanwhile, Jiro’s colleague invites someone to the party not knowing that she is the woman Jiro was engaged to marry when he met and fell in love with Taeko.
As uncomfortable interactions accumulate, the family is suddenly struck by tragedy. In its wake, both Taeko and Jiro find themselves pulled back into the orbits of their former lovers, who tempt each of them with the promise of regaining something precious that’s been lost.
Intricately plotted and acted with great vulnerability, Love Life is a revelatory foray into the disparate itineraries that bring two individuals into a marriage. This work of rare emotional intelligence is animated by the understanding that each intimacy in our lives is unique, offering distinct excitements, frustrations, comforts, and reflections on who we are — and who we aspire to be.