Japan's Official Submission to the Academy Awards
After a long and unsuccessful struggle to get pregnant, Satoko and her husband decide to adopt a child. Over the next six years, the middle-class couple and their young son Asato settle into a comfortable, albeit routine, life. The family’s orderly existence is shattered by the arrival of Hikari, a young woman claiming to be Asato’s biological mother, demanding his return. As tensions mount, Satoko grows more and more emboldened to defend her family.
Weaving together multiple timelines and genres with a contemplative pacing and keen sense of place, hallmarks of Kawase’s work, TRUE MOTHERS is “is a deeply touching celebration of women who assume duties of love, support and compassion” (Awards Watch).
"Based on the 2015 novel by Mizuki Tsujimura, True Mothers has the quiet depth of a strong literary adaptation. Asking what makes a family, it evokes themes similar to Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters. And, like Shoplifters, True Mothers turns our notion of family on its head and answers this question with the utmost compassion – affirming a mother’s love over societal expectations for her role in her child’s life. There are different roles to play in motherhood, from giving life to nurturing a child throughout that life. True Mothers tenderly explores this theme...Recommended." - Video Librarian
"Highly recommended." – S. Yonan for The Sound View
- Hiromi Nagasaku
- Arata Iura
- Aju Makita
- Reo Sato
Actress Juliette Binoche and filmmaker Naomi Kawase discuss True Mothers
Bonus Short Film
Return to Toyama
Written and directed by Atsushi Hirai
Japanese with English subtitles
After a long absence Takumi returns to his small Japanese coastal hometown, having never made amends with his father who disapproved of him leaving.
- "True Mothers covers an impressive amount of narrative ground, morphing from social issue film to domestic drama, romantic melodrama, violent urban thriller and at last a quiet reflection of cathartic confrontation."
- "Naomi Kawase's best film in years, TRUE MOTHERS is a deeply touching celebration of women who assume duties of love, support and compassion."
- "The latest film from the prolific Japanese director Naomi Kawase is a rewarding drama which weaves together knotted maternal bonds and textured character portraits. An elegant, absorbing piece of storytelling, its universal themes and a tone which conveys empathy without tipping into sentimentality...."
- "True Mothers is one of Naomi Kawase's best films to date, a thoughtful drama about the shame associated with unconventional motherhood."
- "[T]he film shimmers with beauty and sadness.... “True Mothers” wows in the end with an emotional banger of an ending that’s a truly devastating convergence of all the film’s threads. Kawase ties everything together beautifully...."
- "The Japanese auteur Naomi Kawase has returned with another of her highly distinctive, tremulously sensitive movies...there is a sustained emotional seriousness in this movie, with committed performances."
- "True Mothers is a sensitive, thoughtful exploration of a subject that far too often collapses into melodramatic pastiche."
- "Naomi Kawase's vision is clear-eyed and precise, extracting veritable emotion from each breathtaking landscape shot and poignant performance.... Much like Japan's excellent 2018 submission Shoplifters, True Mothers is a wistful ode to the infinite forms that family can take, a cogent assertion that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of motherhood. "
- "True Mothers is a thoughtful, delicate film that approaches a difficult subject matter with beautiful cinematography, realistic and realized characters, and a balanced approach to the story telling that will leave you speechless. Watch it."
- " “True Mothers” is probably the most mainstream effort yet from Naomi Kawase.... “True Mothers” is sensitive and layered. "
- "True Mothers (Asa ga Kuru) is a true Naomi Kawase film: a lush visual reworking of parental angst and despair, offset by frequent interludes of communing with that great healer, Mother Nature."
- "“True Mothers” depicts a suitably complex tale of motherhood from multiple perspectives, punctuated by masterful dramatic performances and non-linear editing choices that maintain a suspenseful pace that will evoke tears, but leave audiences with a lot to think about, and a lot to discuss."
- "[A]n enormously life-affirming piece of work — a wryly funny folk tale of innocence and experience."
- "Japan’s Naomi Kawase is among the tenderest of filmmakers... and her latest, “True Mothers,” is a fine example of this Cannes-honored director’s sensitivity and lyricism. They’re especially strong assets here, because this story of teen pregnancy, adoption, and belonging adapted from a novel by Mizuki Tsujimura is the kind of material that can easily lend itself to melodrama. In Kawase’s delicate hands, however, it breathes with an everyday poignancy. [H]er trademark interstitial grace notes of nature’s beauty, serve to burnish the deeply felt performances led by Nagasaku and Makita...."
Awards & Recognition
Best Supporting Actress
Asian Film Awards
San Sebastian Film Festival
Chicago Int'l. Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
Toronto Int'l. Film Festival
Rome Film Festival
Busan Int'l. Film Festival
Philadelphia Film Festival