Dear Etranger Drama

'Dear Etranger' Reel Asian 2017 Review: An examination of the complicated nature of the family unit

November 18, 2017Ferdosa Abdi

With Dear Etranger, director Yukiko Mishima examines a difficult aspect of society — the pressure to have the perfect nuclear family — as we follow Makoto (Tadanobu Asano), a man who is in his second marriage, who has one biological daughter and two stepdaughters.

With three children, things are already complicated for Makoto. But when his wife, Nanae (Rena Tanaka), announces that she is pregnant, Makoto wonders whether this is right for his family. He does his best to maintain his relationship with his own daughter, while struggling to establish one with his eldest stepdaughter. However, it's his relationship with the youngest that is about to be tested, as she is unaware that Makoto is not her biological father. Suffice to say, Makoto's problems don't end there, but the film is ultimately about the family unit.

An understated but effective psychological study of a family man, Dear Etranger never ventures into melodrama. Instead, each of the characters are given time to express their angst and show what they expect from the family, which allows the audience to truly engage with them on a personal level.

Dear Etranger is receiving its Ontario premiere at Reel Asian 2017.

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