[From December Issue 2010]
La Maison de Himiko [House of Himiko] (Directed by INUDO Isshin)
Released in 2005, this film is something of a comedic-drama that’s set in a gay senior home. In it, director INUDO Isshin, who also oversaw the fairy tale, romantic film “Josee, the Tiger and the Fish,” depicts various forms of love, including homosexual, heterosexual, married and parent-child love. Wearing ugly makeup and sporting freckles, popular actress SHIBASAKI Kou plays the daughter who was abandoned by her gay father.
Saori (Shibasaki Kou) is a clerk at a paint company, who contemplates turning to sex-work in order to repay her debts, when a young man named KISHIMOTO Haruhiko (ODAGIRI Joe) pays her a visit. He claims to be her gay father’s (YOSHIDA Teruo, a.k.a. “Himiko”) lover. She learns that her father, who ditched his family long ago, is suffering from terminal cancer, but she show’s no sympathy stating that “Whether that man’s got cancer and it’s terminal, doesn’t matter to me.”
Haruhiko then asks Saori if she’s interested in a part-time job. He offers her 30,000 yen a day to help out every Sunday at La Maison de Himiko, the gay seniors home that Himiko, her father, established. Tempted by the money, she visits the seaside establishment. Upon her arrival, she is shocked to find several odd people, including an elderly man wearing a dress and heavy makeup, who talks like a woman.
Saori is bewildered by being reunited with her father and feels her hatred for him grow even stronger. She reveals to Himiko that she is his daughter, and how she had to borrow money from relatives to pay for her mother’s operation and hospital stay, who eventually died of cancer. When he calmly says that he didn’t know, she yells at him, “Of course not. You are a total stranger!”
Saori keeps working at the home every Sunday, gradually accepting the gay residents who first disgusted her. She teaches the movements of a female anime character to Ruby, who wants to learn them to please his granddaughter. Wearing a Chinese dress, she also dances with Yamazaki who enjoys wearing women’s clothes. Then, all of a sudden, a company president who supports the home is arrested for tax evasion, putting the home’s future in serious jeopardy.
Before long, Saori becomes attracted to Haruhiko. He kisses her, but she knows that she cannot have a normal, romantic relationship with a gay man. While her father continues to weaken daily, she eventually confronts him about whether or not he ever missed her, or if he has any regrets about leaving her mother. “I won’t forgive you for what you did to Mom,” she says while glaring at Himiko, who murmurs in return, “I love you.”
Soon after, Saori quarrels with Haruhiko and the residents over a separate matter and quits her job. Immediately following her departure, Himiko dies. Then, one winter day several months later, the paint company where she works is asked by the home to paint over some graffiti on its wall. Saori accompanies the workers to the home, where the remaining residents all greet her with smiles. The film ends with a final shot of the message “WE WANT TO SEE SAORI” shown across the wall.