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Year: 2003
UK: ICA Projects
Cast: Yo Hitoto, Tadanobu Asano, Masato Hagiwara, Kimiko Yo, Nenji Kobayashi
Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese (English subtitles)
UK: 107 mins
UK Certificate: U contains no sex, violence or bad language
UK Release Date: 10 June 2005


CAFe LUMIeRE is director Hou Hsiao-hsien's homage to Yasujiro Ozu, the great Japanese filmmaker. The Japanese title meaning Coffee, Time and Light sees a wonderful naturalistic performance from Japanese pop singer Yo Hitoto who plays Yoko, an intelligent, independent young woman who has carved out an unhurried, self-sufficient life for herself in contemporary Tokyo.

Busy with her work and sustained by her rural parents, she has a network of close friends (amongst them soul mate and bookshop owner Tadanobu Asano) and a loving family but on the whole she is content to move at her own pace, resisting the pull of a conventional career or romance. However, an unexpected pregnancy forces her to think about her life in a way she never has before - she's pregnant by a boyfriend she doesn't want to marry.

Using even less narrative than he did in MILLENNIUM MAMBO, Hou Hsiao-Hsien again makes a touchstone from the life of one young woman, a key to the pressures and contradictions that come with living in cities today. Hou's tribute is as understated and contemplative on the surface as one of Ozu's own masterpieces, yet filled with penetrating observations about its characters and contemporary urban existence. It's a film about finding a rhythm to your life that fits and trying to live accordingly - an internal rhythm augmented by the music to which you listen, the places you visit or even - in Tadanobu's case - the sound of trains.

Commissioned and made to mark the centenary of Ozu's birth and working for the first time with Japanese stars and dialogue Hsiao- Hsien has created a film that respects rather than mirrors Ozu's style - using an unhurried pace and emphasis on the everyday - not to mention his passion for Japan's railways. Gracefully shot by IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE cinematographer Mark Lee Pin-bing, the film feels lit from within by Hou's patient love and consideration for his unfailingly ordinary yet absolutely one-of-a-kind heroine. Hsiao Hsien's forthcoming feature THREE TIMES is currently In Competition at Cannes 2005, vying for the prestigious Palme d'Or.

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