A Fangirl’s Japanese Movie Review: My Retirement, My Life

My Retirement, My Life is a cute Japanese movie about a set-in-his-ways fuddy-duddy who thinks he can relax and veg out when he retires. However, his grown daughter has other plans.

Our Retiree

We begin with Mr. Sano and his daughter Yumiko eating breakfast on his last day of work. He wordlessly hands her his cup of coffee, and she wordlessly takes it and refills it. We immediately know that he expects her to do everything around the house, especially when she stands waiting and hands him his briefcase as he leaves.

What he didn’t expect

When he gets back home again, he finds a note from Yumiko saying that she is going to live her own life and not put him first anymore. (She is tired of filling in for her mom, who died a long time ago.) Now she assigns Dad to do the housework. “Seven days a week for no wage. It’s demanding, but that’s just how it is.” He doesn’t argue, but we get a few funny scenes as he tries his best. Then he spends the next couple of days sitting in the living room, which is noticeably dark, drinking beer and letting the empty cans pile up.

It’s fun to watch him get jostled up, pushed out the door, and start interacting with neighbors. He has to learn to get along with people and not just tell them what to do the way he did at work. There is a morning exercise group and a part-time odd-jobs service, where we get more funny scenes of the crazy things people ask him to do. And then there is a pretty divorcee with secret grief who already has several retired men vying for her attention.

The daughter’s other plans

Yumiko works at a bakery, which is bright and cheery yellow, in great contrast to the house. At the age of thirty, she is thinking about marriage, but she has two problems. Her father depends on her to do everything for him, and her boyfriend only has a part-time job. It’s interesting to watch her tactfully try to edge her dad into being independent and her boyfriend into thinking long term. That’s her secret motive in appointing Dad as the housekeeper. The way this all turns out is a surprise to her as well as to us.

Should you watch?

This movie is a slice of life story that has no real villains, and an underlying theme of how our unspoken expectations influence our relationships. I found it a refreshing break from heavier dramas. It’s shot well, highlighting a little seaside town and some beautiful scenery at the park where they exercise. It should be interesting to all ages because we get to see a lot of different viewpoints. Watch for the little neighborhood girl who has pithy things to say about adults. And take the advice of Mr. Sano’s boss, who told him not to fritter his time away because “Heaven is still miles away.” Watch it on Viki.

I hope you enjoy it!


Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

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