Rating: 8/10
Year: 2002
Genre: Drama
Director: Junichi Mori
Cast: Yosuke Kubozuka, Koyuki, Takeshi Naito

Laundry is different from most of the movies I have seen lately. It does not have a very subtle and well calculated plot, nor does it attempt to exploit the usual sex theme in romance genre. It instead captures the heart of the audience with its simple and unpolished narrative. Watching this film is no doubt a refreshing journey.

Teru (Yosuke Kubozua) is an optimistic young man. Being slightly mentally handicapped doesn't prohibit him from working at the laundry store. One day, he comes across a girl called Mizue (Koyuki) who has a miserable past. The blossom of love has come spontaenously... Obviously, both the male and female protagonists are disabled in a certain way, Teru lacks common sense while Mizue has a bad habit of shoplifting as a result of a breakup. This story setup reminds me of Oasis, a Korean movie that focuses on a pair of lovers that belong to the minority groups of the society. The male is a parasite of his family, while the girl is phyiscally handicapped. In that movie, realism is stressed, we keep seeing the two lovers being discriminated by the people living around them. Their life is a pure tragedy. Compared to that film, the treatment of the characters in Laundry is totally contrary. Although Teru and Mizue are handicapped, they are certainly not discriminated or forgotten by anyone. Teru's friends never actually teases him for his stupidity, Mizue's sister has also finally received her. They are not the dependent of their family too. They have a job and work diligently to get paid for their living. The filmmaker's positive and optimistic attitude toward his characters is really very encouraging.

Apart from the positive plot, the relaxed and spontaenous atmosphere as well as the outstanding character design are also the major factors that make this film compelling. The setting is quite refreshing. We are retreated from the overcrowded and stressful city to a small town with simple houses and pure residents. Everything is so nice and natural. It allows us to embrace the beauty of nature. What is good about the characters is their exaggerrated purity. No matter Teru, Mizue or the pigeon man Sally (Takeshi Naito), each of them has an innoncent mind. They treat each other faithfully and sincerely. It is very different from the social interaction in our society where everyone is egocentric. I agree that these characters are not realistic at all. They are just too good to be true. But this is movie! The premise of the story has already told us that this film is not a genuine reflection of reality, it is more like a fairy tale that brings hope and joy to the audience.

Yosuke Kubozuka is a prolific actor. Up to date, he has been in about seven films in his short span of career. Each one of his characters is so different yet convincing. His portrayal of Teru is quite low profile and spontaenous. Without being overdose or too blatant, his performance fits the requirement of this character perfectly. Female lead Koyuki is not a very gorgeous woman. It was amazing to see how Junichi Mori was able to turn her into an unbelievably cute and beautiful lady in front of the camera. You can actually sense her pain through her eyes.

Laundry is a very good title for this film. Laundry, which means clothes washing, has an indication of cleansing or purification. This film is a story about purification. Not only does it cleanse the heart of Teru and Mizue, it also manages to purify our heart and provide us a pressure-free respite of two hours.

Cool guy(s) - Yosuke Kubozuka, Koyuki

Reviewed by: Kantorates