Fuku-Chan of Fuku-Fuku Flats ("Fukufuku-so no Fuku-chan")
“Makes the most of the comedy talents of its leads with its mixture of slapstick humour and pathos working delightfully” – Mark Adams, SCREEN DAILY
Fuku Tatsuo (Miyuki Oshima), or Fuku-chan as the tenants of his apartment building affectionately call him, makes a living as a housepainter, leading a team of slacker types whose shenanigans include things like waking co-workers with farts to the face. Having long relinquished his dreams of being an artist despite being quite talented at it, his hobbies include designing kites and hanging out with the tenants of his modest and homey apartment building, called the Fuku-Fuku flats. Generous and loving, Fuku-chan takes great care of his friends and tenants, alleviating the loneliness of an oddball bunch of misfits that includes a slack-jawed snake-owner, a naïve, aspiring traditional singer and a former panty thief. Everything seems to point to a calm, enjoyable existence, yet one nagging problem remains: Fuku-chan is painfully shy around women, and refuses the many dates his best pal (YosiYosi Arasawa) sets him up for. Suffering from a great deal of repressed loneliness, Fuku’s resistance seems unshakeable until an old acquaintance, the recently jobless photographer Chiho Sugiura (Asami Mizukawa), comes into his life and tries to make up for past errors.
Fan-favourite Yosuke Fujita (QUIRKY GUYS AND GALS and FINE, TOTALLY FINE) is back with another oddball bittersweet comedy, one part quirky slapstick absurdity and two parts poignant character study. If much of the director’s previous film was centered around YosiYosi Arasawa’s uniquely awkward yet impeccable comedic timing (also seen in films such as SURVIVE STYLE 5+ and returning here in an excellent supporting role), Fujita makes the experience of FUKU-CHAN unique through the bold decision of casting famed Japanese comedienne Miyuki Oshima as the gender-bent leader of a group of iconoclastic, endearing weirdoes. Oshima generously inhabits the character, providing the emotional through-line of the film with unspoken depth and complexity; her simultaneously charming and one-of-a-kind performance proving absolutely essential to the film’s success. Fujita’s careful, obsessive attention to his many characters’ quirks and idiosyncrasies recalls the cinema of Wes Anderson, and like his, makes for an incredibly layered and unique ensemble comedy. Indeed, FUKU-CHAN is the feelgood, laugh-out-loud indie comedy hit of this year’s fest, mixing humour with a great deal of heart-tugging pathos, in the way only Fujita is capable of.
— Ariel Esteban Cayer