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Taste of Tea, The

Japan (2004), 143 minutes
Starring: Maya Banno, Takahiro Sato, Tadanobu Asano, Satomi Tezuka, Tatsuya Gashuin, Tomokazu Miura
Reviewer: Jeremy Silman
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Rating: 5

The Taste of Tea is a tale about an extraordinary family (the Harunos) that lives in the countryside. Each member captures your imagination:

Yoshiko (the mother, played by Satomi Tezuka) is bubbling with energy and creativity. She’s a famous anime artist and is trying to get back in the business.

The father (Tomokazu Miura) is a hypnotherapist who loves to put his family under and make them experience wild LSD type scenarios (this guy needs to be given a father of the century award).

The uncle, played by Tadanobu Asano (an Ishii favorite) is a musician who loves to talk endlessly about his childhood.

The grandfather is played by another Ishii favorite (see the review of Sharkskin Man and Peach Hip Girl), Satomi Tezuka. As usual, this actor gives an extraordinary performance and takes over the screen whenever he’s in it.

The teenage son, Hajime, (Takahiro Sato) is hormonally in love with a pretty new classmate who happens to share in a love of the game Go.

The daughter, Sachiko (Maya Banno) is constantly followed around by her house-sized doppelganger, though only she can see it.

The Taste of Tea follows this family, their goals, meanderings, and adventures. Each member plays an important part as they blow each other’s minds, find equally crazy people to bring home, try and solve the mystery of the giant egg, and generally charm the viewer into total supplication.

As is typical of Ishii, the movie is too long, but in this case it’s acceptable since one comes to love the characters so much that you really don’t want it to end. Make a nice, hot pot of tea, sit back, and enjoy the ride.