“The Asada Family”: this Japanese film does us so much good

“Photos are sacred! » The whole philosophy of « the Asada Family », nugget — in the spirit of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s tribal films – which is good, in theaters this Wednesday, is in this sentence dropped by a secondary character. In the Asada family, we ask for the youngest son, Masashi. Trained in the production of family shots by an amateur photographer father, he will, after many adolescent wanderings – and as many bogus changes of look – decide to undertake studies of the eighth art.

After which, he will find an astonishing source of inspiration: to capture his family in an unprecedented overview. Because Masashi needs to “know” his subject thoroughly before succeeding in a shot. Remembering that his father had dreamed of being a firefighter since childhood, he will have the clan — his dad, his mom, his older brother and himself — pose in firefighter outfits after borrowing a truck from the brigade. local.

The photo in question will be a hit, committing Masashi to renew the experience by asking everyone their desires (restaurateur, yakuza, formula 1 driver…) and organizing an image around it, which will result in a phenomenal series of photos which will be collected in a book. The young man will then go and offer his services as a family photographer to other tribes, always in the same spirit.

Hilarious and upsetting

But the story does not end there: in 2011, during a tsunami that ravaged eastern Japan, Masashi Asada arrived on the spot in search of a family who called on him. Not finding it, he decides to help a young student who has undertaken to save the family albums and photos from damage soaked and scattered by the marine cataclysm.

Supported by another volunteer, they go, in threes and for months, to restore, save and display on giant panels 80,000 images, 60,000 of which will be quickly “returned” to their owners. This titanic operation will have two consequences for our photographer: keeping him away from his beloved family for a long time — before a kidnapped reunion, celebrated in pictures of course — and making him reconnect with his job, he who had lost his taste for it by struggling from morning to evening on the damaged photos of others…

Brilliantly interpreted by a cast of magnificent actors, hilarious in its first part, overwhelming in the second, “The Asada Family” strikes directly at the heart. And opens our eyes to a peculiarity of Japan unknown in the West: in the country that we thought was entirely converted to digital images, the family photo in hard copy has an effectively “sacred” value. The story of this devotion, through the portrait of this photographer and his amazing family, turns upside down as much as it amazes and gives rise to a unique moment of cinema, of a rare tenderness.

Editor’s note:

The Asada Family », dramatic comedy by Ryôta Nakano, with Kazunari Ninomiya, Haru Kuroki, Mitsuru Hirata, Jun Fubuki… (2h07)

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