The curmudgeon-orphan bonding genre gets another reworking in Kikujiro, a new film by celebrated Japanese writer-director-editor Takeshi Kitano (Hana-Bi, Sonatine). His maverick style is on display once again, but this time in service of a formula story about a 9-year old school boy who decides to find his mother with the help of a reluctant neighbor. Director Kitano makes a heroic effort to avoid the movie’s unavoidable clichés; his storytelling veers deliberately from farce to melodrama. But in permitting himself so much freedom, he inadvertently jerks his audience around, disorienting them with his mish-mash style.
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