Nonko is a failed actress who, at 36, has returned home to live with her parents and lick her wounds after also seeing her marriage collapse. She is sullen, angry and selfish...relying on her good looks and the good will of others to see her through life. When Masaru (a young man) arrives looking to set up a stall at Nonkos fathers temple during a festival she finds herself drawn to his innocence. The scene is set, at this point, for Nonko to find redemption, happiness and true love. Director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri doesn't give us that and instead we see the ex husband arrive and, after an unsettling sex scene, apparently offer her a return to her old life in Tokyo; which, despite her feelings for Masaru, she is willing to jump at.
The performance of Maki Sakai as Nonko is fantastic. Further evidence that the pool of talent outside of Hollywood is deeper and richer than that inside. On a level playing field someone like Sakai would be as big a star as the likes of Kiera Knightly. The major difference between Sakai and her more well known peers is that she can act and doesn't have to rely on her physical appearance. This was a subtle, convincing and moving performance made all the more impressive by the fact that the character she was playing wasn't easy to like.
As I write this there is a trailer playing for "Clash of the Titans" (strap-line? "When Titans Clash"...I kid you not) and the depth of my despair at yet another CGI fest high on budget and low on artistic worth will draw in millions of pounds and hundreds of thousands of viewers while "Non-Ko" was seen by about 20 people here in Edinburgh tonight. Something is wrong, very wrong...the only way to fix it is for YOU to go out and see more independent, art-house films at places like the Filmhouse or equivalent where you live. If you don't have an independent cinema then you need to write to your local multiplex and demand these sorts of films. Do it. Do it now!