The other two shorts fared a bit better. Yet cooking and being a good (house)wife as motives permeated them as well. Life’s Best Ten is about Hatoko, a working woman who is a bit indecisive and who although nearing 40 she has no lover. She fondly remembers her life’s most striking experiences and the one being constantly on top is when she daringly asked out the boy she loved in her middle school. She now goes to a reunion in order to meet again with her old love and she gets to have a night with him only to be fooled into buying a pot set and later learning he wasn’t who he claimed to be. Nevertheless that night when she felt in charge of her love life became her next best experience.
Here are the problematic parts:
I found it sad that Hatoko’s best experiences and the way she saw herself as brave were related only to men. She literally had no good work-related memories and she seems to have influenced no one’s life. I can sympathize with the fact that loneliness is a tough disease to deal with, especially as you grow older, but it’s remarkable how everything spins around men, marriage and cooking at the bottom line. She started cooking for the dream of a man and not for herself, she gets flattered when her friends praise her dishes as a certificate for marriage-ability and somehow she got exalted having slept with a stranger that deceived her.
I still liked Life Best Ten‘s for having a working woman, who, even briefly, was shown to be troubled about the way things work in her career life, for Hatoko making the first step in her romance- and sex-related moments, and for the inventive depiction of how a reunion party feels like. Hatoko’s doubts and worries along with her generation’s short characterisation were very interesting as well. The commentary about everyone wearing labels of things they don’t really possess is my favorite part of this short, though.
The last story, Not Somewhere But Here, succeeds in what Dinner fails. Although the protagonist’s life is miserable, she makes a decision to change and not to remain passive, trying to please everyone without getting anything in return. She worries about her daughter who doesn’t stand her and leaves the house, she babysits her old mother who only complains, she is forced to work part-time, since her husband lost his job and wanders around aimlessly like the wimp he is, and her son does nothing for her either. On top of it, she gets pressed into going out with a collegue and that is the turning point: she reacts and wins her life back little by little. It’s refreshing watching her raising her voice and making her existence matter.