37 Seconds

37Director: Hikari

Released in 2020

This film handled a difficult topic with grace and compassion. It was uncomfortable to watch, but the lead, Mei Yakama, was heartbreakingly adorable, making it easy to empathise with the character, and also anxious to stick it out with her.

Yuma is a manga artist with cerebral palsy, molly coddled by her mother (Kanno Yusuzu), and yearning for independence. She’s fortunate, in her exploration of identity and sexual experience, to meet with kindness, which gives her courage and helps her to make the leap to self-acceptance and, ultimately, freedom. It’s hard, but Yuma is not as helpless as her mother thinks she is and her courage is buoyed by friendship and hope.

The sex worker Mai (Makiko Watanabe) and her driver Toshiya (Shunsuke Daito) are just what Yuma needs in her life and I can’t help wonder if she will eventually find love with Toshi — his expression doesn’t just show sympathy, surely. But first, Yuma must come to terms with herself and her relationship with her mother. Yusuzu is superb as Yuma’s mother, making you cringe at her over-protective behaviour yet still understand the worry and fear she feels. As a mother I could totally relate.

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