18-year old Kiyomi (Aimi Satsukawa) witnesses the death of her parents in a horrific traffic accident after they ran out into the road to save a cat. Following the funeral her older sister Sumika (Eriko Sato), who has been living in Tokyo attempting to make it as an actress, returns to the family home in the countryside. The two of them are staying with their step-brother Shinji (Masatoshi Nagase) and his wife Machiko (Hiromi Nagasaku). Far from a congenial family unit, Sumika repeatedly bullies Kiyomi, having never forgiven her younger sister for drawing an insulting manga of her. Sumika dreams of returning to Tokyo, but is unwilling to confront the debts she has left behind, and her own lack of talent as an actress. Meanwhile, Shinji is abusive towards the downtrodden Machiko, their sexless arranged marriage a product of circumstance rather than love.
Based on the novel by Yukiko Motoya, “Funuke Show Some Love You Losers” is a film about a completely dysfunctional family. Sumika is an irredeemably hideous character, overbearing and narcissistic, she blames her sister for her own failings. Eriko Sato gives a terrific performance as the delusional Sumika, convinced of her own abilities and oblivious to those around her. Meanwhile, Aimi Satsukawa’s Kiyomi is the polar opposite, a talented manga artist who suffers all the indignities her sibling piles on her. It is this relationship that represents the heart of the drama, with Sumika believing in her right to a successful career, while Kiyomi keeps her head down and works quietly on her goals. The secondary story of Machiko and Shinji’s relationship complements this with their clashing personalities also leading to a strained relationship. Machiko is bottomless well of positivity, played eccentrically by Hiromi Nagasaku; while Shinji is depressive, his unreadable expression giving little away. The film deals with the darker side of family, with verbal, physical and emotional abuse. This often sits uncomfortably alongside the humour, which is light-hearted and playful, reinforcing the complexity of family relationships, where laughter and tragedy are all part of the mix. The cinematography showcases some of the picturesque landscapes of rural Japan, with the vivid greens of farmland stretching out to forested mountains. The direction also keeps things interesting, with low angled shots and artistic framing giving the film a stylish look. There is a great lived-in feel to the house where the four protagonists are forced to cohabit, with background details such as the funereal photographs, piles of books, and the inversion of usual tropes regarding food and dining bringing families together.
The film gives us four strongly defined characters, representing particular archetypes perhaps (the dominated housewife; the dour, stoic husband; the selfish, vindictive elder sister; and the timid younger sibling). Sumika’s return to the house is the spark that lights a powder keg of repressed emotions and old grudges. The film deals with themes such as jealousy, sibling rivalry, domestic abuse, and depression, among others. It is a powerful depiction of the hostility and lack of understanding that can occur between people who are prone to selfishness. The tragedy for these characters is that they are unable to change their behaviours. Kiyomi states at the end that she is unable to change, in the same way that her sister is also incapable of reform. In Sumika’s case, she is unable to even accept the possibility that she may be mistaken and not be as wonderful as she believes. “Funuke Show Some Love You Losers” is a call to consider those around you and examine your own shortcomings that you might come to a better understanding of your place in the world and the importance of building better relationships.