Film Viewing of the Week: Rentaneko (2012)

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Welcome to the first of hopefully many future weekly instalments of my favourite film viewing of the week! As someone dedicated body and soul to the world of film, I tend to watch at least one film a day and depending on the day, three films or more, which is why I can offer you lovely people my favourite film I've seen in the past week. This film will always be a first-time view for me and could take the form of a new release, a shitty B movie, a forgotten silent gem and everything in between. 

This week's favourite film viewing: Rentaneko (2012)

Let's take a break from Oscar contenders. 

Rentaneko (2012)



A fews days ago, I succumbed to my inner crazy cat lady. You know her? The one that makes you want to cry whenever you see a cat sitting on the sidewalk that just looks like it needs a hug? Or is that just me? In any case, my housemate was about to watch a Japanese film that I'd never heard of before, Rentaneko (2012). I didn't really know much about the film other than it involved cats. And holy shit does it ever involve cats! The film is propelled by Sayoko, (Mikako Ichikawa) who has lived her entire life as a magnet for feline friends. Wherever she goes, kitties follow and stick around. The film might have taken a horrible turn towards an animal edition of "Hoarders", if not for Sayoko's unusual Rent-a-Cat business. Sayoko is an unusal sight, always wandering along the same shore, pulling her makeshift rickshaw, plied with cats, shouting through her megaphone "rentaaaaaaaneko!" (rent a cat). The first 20 minutes or so had me "awwww"ing and hiding behind pillows because I'm immature and just can't handle the cuteness, however after we see Sayoko's initial transaction of leasing a ginger tabby to a lonely widow, the film drags from there. 



Sayoko's goal with her cat business isn't to make money - for each cat that she leases, she only asks for 100 yen which is really only a little more than ten dollars. Rather, her purpose is to help people fill the "holes in their heart". A widow, neglected by her son, a middle-aged man who misses his family, a young woman leading a mundane, solitary life - all these people in need of cats according to Sayoko...and it really works! Yet while Sayoko manages to help others find happiness, it is really herself who's in need of some closeness, being too strange for normal human interaction and having lost her only close friend, her Grandmother. Even dozens of cats can't fill the void in her life. 


From left to right: Maho Yamada as Megumi and Mikako Ichikawa as Sayoko



While this film is quite possibly too adorable for words, it's also very repetitive, following a strict format of simple interactions and cat leasing. It's quite easy to lose focus when you know exactly what is going to happen with each interaction. While in the beginning of the film, I loved Sayoko's charming, albeit odd, free spirited nature, by the end, I found myself more frustrated than captivated with her. However, the films redeems itself with an ending that, without revealing too much, defies Hollywood romantic comedy stigmas. 



I saw a lot of great movies this week, quite a few that I would praise higher than Rentaneko, however, since this has been my first week back at school, a film about cats was absolutely necessary to lift the spirits. Rentaneko is packed with whimsy, beauty and most importantly, cats; cats sleeping and yawning and stretching and pawing around, making it impossible to stop beaming throughout the entire movie. 



If you're not a cat lover, don't see this movie. Also, don't read my blog.



Just kidding, liking cats is optional.



But you should really gain some perspective.



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