Tagged: An


Summary: The manager of a pancake stall finds himself confronted with an odd but sympathetic elderly woman looking for work. A taste of her homemade bean jelly convinces him to hire her, which starts a relationship that is about much more than just street food.

Year: 2015

Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th May 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: Japan, France, Germany

Director: Naomi Kawase

Screenwriter: Naomi Kawase, Durian Sukegawa (novel)

Cast: Etsuko Ichihara (Yoshiko), Kirin Kiki (Tokue), Masatoshi Nagase (Sentaro), Taiga (Yohei), Kyara Uchida (Wakana)

Runtime: 113 mins

Classification: M




Greg King:

This gentle and delicate little drama from Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2016, and is now gaining a limited theatrical release. It is a deceptively charming little film that will win audiences over. The title itself An is the Japanese word for a sweet red bean paste which is one of the key ingredients of the film.

Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase, from Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, etc) runs a little pancake stall on the street selling dorayaki. A delicacy in Japan, dorayaki is essentially a pancake consisting of two small cookies filled with a sweet bean sauce. Business is rather slow until Tokue (veteran Kirin Kiki, fromLike Father, Like Son, etc), an elderly woman, applies for a job as an assistant cook. She is hired despite her crippled hands and her age. She makes her own sweet bean sauce from scratch, but it proves such a treat that soon customers are flocking to the small stand. Both have unhappy pasts and secrets, but when Tohue shares her recipe with Sentaro she helps him rediscover life. Shy local schoolgirl Wakana (newcomer Kyara Uchida) is another outsider who hangs around the shop. Together the trio bond over their love of dorayaki and their friendship changes the direction of their lives.

An (or Sweet Bean as it is known in some territories) is based on a novel written by Durian Sukegawa, and is arguably Kawase’s most accessible film. This is a low-key heartfelt and bittersweet film that centres around themes of tradition, food, friendship, loneliness, pain, secrets and second chances. Like Tokue’s unhurried approach to making her bean sauce recipe, Kawase’s direction is leisurely and sensitive. She takes her time over a lengthy sequence in which Tokue patiently makes her bean sauce.

However, the slow pace gives audiences ample time to get to know the characters and soak up the atmosphere. Kawase also suffuses the film with a warmth and gentle humour and a sentimental nature. The film’s final sequence blatantly tugs at the heartstrings.
The film is anchored by the remarkable performance of veteran actress Kiki, who brings grace and dignity to her role. Nagase brings a quietly unassuming quality to his performance as Sentaro.

An has been beautifully shot by first time cinematographer Shigeki Akiyama who gives the film an almost poetic quality. The colourful Japanese cherry blossoms which also feature prominently in the film become a potent symbol of the fleetingness of life, and the importance of seizing the moment and living in it.

An is another fine example of that subgenre of food porn cinema like Big Night, Babette’s Feast, etc, that will have audiences leaving the cinema feeling quite hungry and ready for a bite of something simple.




Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3.5)


IMDB Rating:  Sweet Bean (2015) on IMDb


Other Subculture Entertainment An reviews: You can also listen to our full An review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #175.


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This week on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Dave, Greg and Nick take a look at new release films ‘Florence Foster Jenkins,’ ‘An,’ and ‘Bad Neighbours 2’. This episode also contains interviews with Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen, Malcolm Blaylock (Human Rights Film Festival) and Cherie Currie (The Runaways).

You can listen to The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show or download it for free from our Podcast Channel – Listen/Download here.


Greg King2

Greg King has had a life long love of films. He has been reviewing popular films for over 15 years. Since 1994, he has been the film reviewer for BEAT magazine. His reviews have also appeared in the Herald Sun newspaper, S-Press, Stage Whispers, and a number of other magazines, newspapers and web sites.

Greg also hosts Movies At Dusk on 3WBC 94.1FM every Sunday between 7-7pm. The two hour show includes interviews with film makers, reviews and news from the world of film and entertainment. he also co-hosts the breakfast show The Wednesday Motley Crew with David Griffiths every Wednesday morning between 7-10am on 3WBC 94.1FM.

Greg also presents film reviews regularly on Terry Phibbs’ Dusk program every Sunday at 6.30pm on 3WBC 94,1FM and at 2.30pm as part of Peter Cassidy’s Saturday Afternoon Program.

He was the producer of Media Moves Cinema Scene, heard every Saturday morning from 11.00am to 12 noon, on radio station 3CR in Melbourne.

Greg is also the secretary of the Australian Film Critics Association.

When not viewing movies, Greg’s other passions include reading, listening to music, and the St Kilda football club.

Currently Greg King has 15 reviews on Subculture Entertainment