Rhapsody in August

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Year Released: 1991
Rating: 2.0

An old widow - her husband died in the bombing of Nagasaki - receives an invite from her dying brother (and an established American citizen with an American son) to visit him in Hawaii - the correspondence brings back old memories of the tragedy (as well as her anger with America), which she passes on to her grandchildren. Though Kurosawa's intentions are in the right place, this is heavy-handed material, with the easily placated and startled grandchildren astonished at every tall tale and story - their reactions and dialogue don't ring true, and the pieces of the film that give history of the event would be better used in a documentary rather than fiction film. It certainly doesn't help much that the great handshake between America and Japan comes in the form of Richard Gere-san, who smiles and pats heads and speaks enough Japanese to get by - he apologizes on behalf of all of us and certainly looks sincere, though he (predictably) never has the chance to add, "... but you started it."