Osaka Asian Film Festival 2023
Asian New Talent Competition - Shanghai International Film Festival 2023
Suzuyuki Kaneko, Yurina Kaneko
Kanata Hosoda, Ren Komai
Jon no son
When sophomore university student Nanamori meets Mugito, they decide to join a club. Intrigued by the Plushies Club, they soon realize it is not a place where people make plushies, but rather one where members are welcome to talk to stuffed animals about their feelings, or anything they might not want to discuss with other people. An introvert’s paradise. A safe space. An escape from society’s pressures and rules. For Nananori, it’s a natural fit: the club allows him to explore his uneasiness about dating and society’s imposed gender roles. But soon, an overwhelmed Mugito disappears, and the more pragmatic club member Shiraki begins voicing opposition to the group’s insular methods. Real life encroaches.
Adapted from a novella by Ao Omae, a rising star in a new wave of gender-conscious Japanese literature, and directed by up-and-comer Yurina Kaneko (featured in Fantasia 2019’s 21ST CENTURY GIRL omnibus), PEOPLE WHO TALK TO PLUSHIES ARE KIND enchants with impressive direction (long unbroken takes, a sprinkling of animation, emotional performances) and hard questions. It explores notions of sexuality, gender, animism and the nature of kindness in a way that has proven subtly controversial in the film’s home country, tackling the codified patriarchy of Japanese society by way of daring an alternative. Through its myriad of characters and their differing opinions, PLUSHIES also offers a gentle, though-provoking update on the youth movie, matching the soothing role of its titular animals by offering a glimpse into a microcosm of inclusivity, for when the world feels like entirely too much. – Ariel Esteban Cayer
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