Based on the novel by Yukiko Motoya, Funuke Show Some Love Losers (or Cowards, Show Some Sorrowful Love! in Japan) is the 2007 directorial debut of Daihachi Yoshida — who has since built a steady career in Japan even as his films rarely make it outside of his homeland. Third Window deserves praise for its consistency in unearthing and distributing highly niche Japanese titles. The nation’s cinema has much to offer, but Western audiences are often only able to access a tiny fraction of the industry’s output. That’s likely enough for average viewers, but serious cinephiles know that means we miss out on hidden gems. Funuke had been thriving on torrent sites, albeit in a poor presentation over which Third Window rightly expressed frustration on Twitter — saying it would not be so well-presented and -translated if not for its work. Please support official releases of films, as it’s the only way we’re going to get more!
That said, Third Window can’t always strike gold, and I can’t say I was taken with Funuke — billed as a black comedy but not one that really sits that way. The film follows Sumika (Eriko Sato from Hideaki Anno’s live-action Cutie Honey film), a failed actress returning to her rural home after her parents’ untimely death. She clashes with sister Kiyomi (Aimi Satsukawa), who potentially ruined Sumika’s career with a manga about her, adopted brother Shinji (Masataoshi Nagase), and Shinji’s wife, Machiko (Hirmoi Nagasaku). These are all terrible and damaged people, which isn’t an impediment to black comedy meant to amplify life’s absurdities. But their behaviours manifest in such toxic, abusive ways that it’s hard to find the laughter. In one instance, Sumika burns Kiyomi in a bath. Others are beaten and humiliated, but none of it feels funny or as if it has a point or strong theme. Still, Funuke seems to have hit a spot for some, and I do suspect there is potentially more salient criticism of Japanese family life, especially of the rural type, for the domestic audience. The actors all fare well enough, as do the technical aspects, although neither elevates Funkuke among similar black comedies.
Extras include a making-of documentary, as well as some extra background scenes. Nothing to write home about, but still there for those end up enjoying the film. It’s a shame when something so hidden turns out to not be all that great, but it does add to the gradient curve of Japanese films, and serious lovers of that nation’s films likely will want to check it out. Not every swing will be a home run, so I sincerely hope Third Window continues its practice of unearthing obscure Japanese films.