TIFF review: 37 Seconds

Japanese film is an insightful and moving look at a young disabled artist's coming of age

37 SECONDS CWC D: Hikari. Japan/U.S. 115 min. Sep 11, 3 pm, TIFF 3 Sep 12, 9 pm, TIFF 3 Sep 14, 6 pm, TIFF 3. Rating: NNNN

Hikari’s Berlinale Audience Award-winning feature debut is an insightful and moving look at a young disabled artist’s coming of age.

Born with cerebral palsy, soft-spoken 23-year-old Yuma (Mei Kayama) lives in Tokyo with her overprotective mom (Misuzu Kanno) and ghostwrites manga for a blogger and influencer (Minori Hagiwara). When Yuma realizes the blogger’s never going to give her proper credit, she interviews for a job at a manga porn magazine, where the editor tells her she needs sexual experience. That challenge opens her up to another world and inadvertently forces her to confront some family secrets. 

The plot meanders a bit, especially in the second half. And a thread concerning a helpful prostitute and a driver who goes way beyond the call of duty strains credulity.

But Hikari has a sharp eye for the condescension and insensitivity Yuma faces in her daily life. And Kayama delivers an open, complex performance that will warm your heart and make you cheer for her character’s small and big victories. 

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