Cheeky, untouchable girls can make a film immortal. Think of Jean Seberg in À bout de souffle. From now on you can also dream of the bold Ai Ikeda. In immortal black-and-white. The girl finds a purse with a large sum of money. Enough to get the story moving.
Izumi is a teenage girl who one day finds a wallet with 300,000 yen in it. She lends some of the money to someone in financial need but, urged on by her two girlfriends Hasumi and Kaoru (encounters and conversations between the three of them form a significant part of the film) she decides to give the lost property back to its owner Koki Sato, the son of a rich, corrupt politician.
He decides however that he doesn’t want the money back, but in exchange, the three girls have to make a newspaper which is only filled with good news - for a sick friend. During the production process, we look mainly through the surprised eyes of the cheerful and original-minded Izumi - a kind of Japanese Juno - at the world around her and we also see her growing up.
This subtle comedy, which also touches on difficult questions such as homosexuality, death and economic crisis, is stylishly shot in black-and-white. Virtually all the roles are played by novice or non-professional actors.
Programmer Note by Gertjan Zuilhof:
This film opens with a quote from the lead Izumi dated 2035. Twenty years into the future. The film has little in common with science fiction and is about a memory from the future. The people and the surroundings look like the here and now in 2011 and the black-and-white images remind us of the 1960s.
Izumi - in her school uniform - finds what proves to be the story’s driving force, right at the start: a wallet stuffed with cash. Perhaps school uniforms in 2035 will still be the same as they are now because they also look just like they did in the 1950s. It’s less probable that cash will still exist in 2035 so that may feel anachronistic.
The given of finding a wallet, moreover with money in it that belongs to someone you know, is reminiscent of Robert Bresson’s L'argent. The money works as a catalyst for one moral conundrum after another. Kobayashi's film is playful and light, and cannot - in that sense - be compared to Bresson’s, but beneath the nonchalance lurk comparable ethical dilemmas.
This explains why Izumi is still thinking about it all twenty years later. It’s amusing to think that she would have been better off just keeping the money.