HER LOVE BOILS BATHWATER is a Japanese drama about a terminally ill family matriarch that hits all the right notes; director Ryota Nakano’s latest film about a dying woman’s determination to bring her family together has an ensemble cast that truly shines.
The film’s title refers to the small-town bathhouse run by Futaba (Rie Miyazawa, in a truly masterful performance) and her family – that is, until husband Kazuhiro (Joe Odagiri) leaves her for another woman. When Futaba is diagnosed out-of-the-blue with stage-four cancer, she confronts Kazuhiro, only to discover him caring for Ayuko (Aoi Ito), a precocious nine-year-old daughter he never knew he had until recently.
Futaba insists her husband brings young Ayuko to live with them, as their teenage daughter Azumi (Hana Sugisaki) is also struggling with issues at school and needs her father. But Futaba’s illness is not the only secret she is keeping from her daughter, and a road trip to Hakone promises many more revelations.
Balancing the impending tragedy with gentle humor and a procession of quirky ancillary characters, the film showcases an impressive collection of strong female characters and bold performances.
— South China Morning Post