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We Couldn’t Become Adults 2021 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online

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We Couldn’t Become Adults 2021 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online

Sato (Moriyama) isn’t over a breakup, but the question is, which one? We meet him as he wanders drunkenly down an eerily empty Tokyo street mid-Covid pandemic, with his longtime friend Nanase (Atsushi Shinohara). They flop into a pile of stinking trash bags. Sato reminds Nanase of something he said a long time ago: 80 percent of people are garbage, and 20 percent are scum, although maybe one percent are all right, and if you’re not so sure about their math there Lou, keep in mind, they’re pretty drunk.

Sato is in a state, or a place, maybe a snit — a mid-life snit of some kind. He’s glum and discontent. Single and depressed. He works too much and too hard and probably drinks too much and too hard too. “I’m 46 and ended up being a pretty boring adult,” he laments. He gets a Facebook friend request from an old girlfriend and is prompted to dig up some old psychic wreckage and stare into some craters left by that old girlfriend, and a few other old girlfriends. He works backward: It’s 2015, it’s 2011, it’s 2008, it’s 2000, it’s 1999, it’s 1998, it’s 1997, it’s 1996, it’s 1995, and it stops there, because you can only go so young before Moriyama the actor might start looking too old. The years are typed out on the screen like he’s writing an autobiography. Some bigger event frames each recollection, from devastating earthquakes to Japan’s poor showing in the World Cup, which makes sense when you realize he works as a designer of graphics for TV news shows, and he works so many thankless hours that the high-pressure, low-reward job chews up and defines his life.

So Sato’s life is a series of anecdotes: A party for a cheesy TV show he worked for, where he meets a dancer and spends an uneventful sad night with her. A brief relationship with sweet woman who, he soon learns, is a sex worker. An encounter with an abusive work client. His interview with Sekiguchi (Masahiro Higashide), his longtime boss and friend. A scooter crash when he was hurriedly delivering floppy disks full of graphics in the pre-high-speed-internet age. Nights drinking with co-workers at the cozy little bar run by Nanase, who appears to have feelings for Sato. And the story of Kaori (Sairi Ito), the girl he met when he was 21, the girl who sent him the friend request, the girl with whom he had a tender night in an outer space-themed room in a “love hotel,” the same room he returns to frequently, because it makes him feel safe and secure in his lugubriousness.

For Sato, there is no insult worse than being called “ordinary.” Rebelling against the idea of ordinariness is the thread tying together the many vignettes of his adult life. And now, he frequently levies the word at himself. He’s stuck in a rut, devoted wholesale to a job offering at-best marginal satisfaction; he hangs out at the bar and doesn’t want to have another drink or hang out with a potential romantic interest because he’s on call in case any big news breaks. If the too-much-work lifestyle sounds relatable, you may find empathy for Sato, although watching him spin and spin and spin his tires for a quarter-century can be frustrating. He broods, he sulks, he jams the microscope lens in his navel and counts the lint fibers. Talk to someone. Take a pill. GET OVER YOURSELF BRO.

I don’t intend to disregard or discount Sato’s struggles with depression, but We Couldn’t Become Adults is a muffled rumination on Gen-X midlife crises: Dude, you got a job and got married and procreated LIKE A TOTAL SELLOUT. The implication here is, Sato didn’t find the balance of youth and maturity that so many of us strive for. But why? The character’s reminiscences shape him as little more than an impenetrable lump of gloom who was indelibly shaped by the one girlfriend, Kaori, who inspired him to embark upon an improbable quest: to live a truly extraordinary life. It didn’t happen. And there she is, on Facebook, living an “ordinary” life like billions of others. It puts him in a tailspin, and he can’t get out of it.

The film builds to Sato and Kaori’s meeting — two shy, withdrawn people who were pen pals and soon experience their first real love affairs. It’s staged as a tender and awkward series of encounters, and plays out like emo-manga for teens. Which is to say, it doesn’t carry much dramatic purchase here, and renders Sato’s ruminations on a wasted life thin and ineffective. It plays more like a cautionary fable for young viewers than a nostalgia-and-regret saga for adults. Director Mori’s strength lies in visually capturing the setting, and he finds a few poetic flourishes to enrich a few individual moments, e.g., how the eerily quiet, pandemic-affected city streets enhance Sato’s state of isolation. He can’t clear the dark cloud in order to see the wonder of the world around him. It’s time for him to move on, and maybe he will. But two hours of his somber reflections are little more than a thinly rendered, despondent drag.

We Couldn’t Become Adults 2021 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online