As a family accepts the eldest son’s wife into their home, their lives are upended as this beautiful, loving woman affects each member of the household in different ways.
Essentially an homage to Yasujirō Ozu’s family dramas, Abnormal Family takes numerous elements (from dialogue to framing, movement and visuals) to subvert the viewers expectations. Drawing from Ozu’s style and using it as a framework, while director Masayuki Suo builds his pinku story within. This is something that prolific genre filmmaker, Takashi Miike would further warp and distort seventeen years later with his blacker than black comedy, Visitor Q.
In Abnormal Family, Suo gives us snapshots of family life but these are fractured. In many instances a family discussion will be occurring in tandem with erotic scenes. The elder brother is sexually unsatisfied with his new bride, who is coveted by the younger brother, while the daughter has given up on the idea of an office job and is working in a bathhouse. All the while, their meek, dazed, widower father mourns the loss of his wife, seeing her face in the significant women in his life.
If it wasn’t for all of the soft-core sex, Abnormal Family would be an achingly tragic family drama, but perhaps that’s the point (and perhaps still is, in spite of this). The stilted dialogue is often flat and otherworldly, acting as a barrier between the viewer and the characters. It is only when the talking stops and the eroticisms start that the audience has any opportunity to immerse themselves in what is unfolding onscreen.
Unlike earlier examples of Japanese “pink” movies, Abnormal Family doesn’t require a plot-worthy excuse to exhibit nudity and scenes of a sexual nature. This isn’t a pseudo-political film or a noir mystery thriller. This family drama features male arousal, shades of BDSM, oral sex and in-law affairs because at its heart, this film is about replacing the matriarch with a new model, and what affects this has.
On a surface level, Abnormal Family is a sixty-minute skin flick with a more engrossing plot, richer characters and greater technical proficiency than one would expect. Beneath that, there are some fascinating parallels with some of Yasujirō Ozu’s classic Japanese dramas, like Tokyo Story. But you know… with more shagging.
Abnormal Family: Older Brother’s Bride is available now via Third Window Films.
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