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Tamako in Moratorium

Posted by martinteller on April 20, 2015

Tamako (Atsuko Maeda) is 23 years old, recently graduated from college.  She lives with her divorced father (Suon Kan) in the back of his sporting goods store.  She spends her days sleeping, looking at her phone, eating, reading manga, watching TV and playing videogames.  The closest thing she has to a friend is the young boy who buys his basketball gear at the store.  Her father pressures her to get a job — any job — but all she has to say on the subject is “Soon. Not now.”

So, yeah, this is a 75-minute movie about a young woman doing nothing.  The only thing that motivates Tamako is her disapproval of her father’s dating life.  The film is short on lessons and explanations (though perhaps it didn’t help that the subtitles weren’t that good).  Why doesn’t she want her father dating?  Because she has hopes her mother will return?  Or will it simply upset her comfortable state of inertia?  And what got her into that state in the first place?  Perhaps what she’s watching on the television (not subtitled) is a clue, but we get a glimpse of one of her peers who seems far more chipper.  And yet later, another glimpse tells us that maybe things aren’t going so well for the chipper gal, either.

Like the philosophy behind “Seinfeld”, the movie examines the minutiae of life and features “no hugging, no learning”.  You are left to make of Tamako what you will.  She’s a frustrating character, but Maeda’s (a Japanese pop star) performance is endearing and funny.  She embodies that post-graduate ennui that many experience, turning lack of ambition into an art form.  Ultimately the movie is certainly slight, and not as immediately lovable as Yamashita’s earlier Linda Linda Linda, but what sounds like a boring premise comes off as a very watchable character study, and a frequently amusing one.  Rating: Good (75)


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