The latest from acclaimed director Naomi Kawase — a candid force in contemporary Japanese cinema — is a touching family story of love and adoption.
Naomi Kawase’s latest film, True Mothers, is a powerful visual adaptation of a 2015 novel by Mizuki Tsujimura, crafted with the rich texture of the director’s unique style, which combines sensuous filmmaking with tactile, vibrant storytelling.
A Tokyo couple undergoing treatment for aspermia and their consequent infertility live a settled, ordinary life. One day, they come across a TV program advertising Baby Baton, a not-for-profit association intended to match couples who cannot procreate with mothers who do not want to raise, or cannot raise, their natural children. As they watch, the couple realizes adoption could be a perfect alternative to their painful and frustrating treatment.
And so Asato, an innocent child born of pure adolescent love — the kind of love made of sheer, intense beauty — is delivered into the wealthy, orderly life of his adoptive parents. Six years later, his young mother comes looking for him, having grown out of the petty, narrow-minded world she lived in when she gave birth as a teenager.
True Mothers revolves around two strong central characters: Satoko (Hiromi Nagasaku), the middle-class adoptive mother, and Hikari (Aju Makita), the desperate young woman who doesn’t want to be erased from her child’s life. Kawase’s film offers a new perspective on the notion of adoption, weaving different timelines, narrative threads, and genres — from moral drama to teenage romance, social exposé, and even thriller — into a touching, sometimes unsettling, emotionally intense cinematic experience.