“To the Ends of the Earth”

(“Tabi no owari sekai no hajimari”)


Metacritic (4/10), Rotten Tomatoes (**)

Take one part character study, one part campy comedy (although that may have been unintentional) and a whole vat full of schmaltz and you’ve got one searing mess of a movie. This Japanese offering about a clueless TV reporter for a cheesy travel show doing segments about life in Uzbekistan has more changes of mood and plot than Baskin-Robbins has flavors. Between her uncanny knack for perpetually failing at her work and finding herself in the wrong parts of town, a compelling but largely inexplicable urge to free a penned-up goat, her seemingly underwhelming romantic feelings for her boyfriend back home (except when it really counts), and an underdeveloped (and somewhat indifferent) attitude toward wanting to fulfill her ambition of becoming a singer, you’ve got dear, sweet, shrill, naïve Yoko (Atsuko Maeda), who has no meaningful or apparent direction in her life (even though she always seems to feel the need to fearfully run wherever it is she’s trying to go at the moment). It’s pure, unadulterated ambling from start to finish. If anyone can tell me what director Kiyoshi Kurosawa was going for here, please explain it to me.