Review of Sweet Bean (2015)
Seen in 2020.
I see commenters disappointed by the darker turn in the second half. It seems natural to me. The horror and revulsion of diseases like Hansen’s is especially strong in Japanese culture. Much of Shintō revolves around purification where a stubborn, contagious taint is effectively the religious idea of evil. The way this is portrayed is stylized for this cozy dramedy—business wouldn’t dry up so completely over night without the cause being apparent—but there is good reason to dwell on Toku’s ostracision. It’s social commentary on a culture of irrational stigma, and as such it’s pretty well done. A film with this complication, and without the dark turn, would have been nonsensical.