Kâbê (Kaabee) (Kabei: Our Mother) (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Kâbê (Kaabee) (Kabei: Our Mother) (2008)



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Movie Info

Veteran Japanese filmmaker Yoji Yamada's 80th feature film concerns a mother living in 1940s-era Tokyo who is forced to care for her two daughters alone after her husband is jailed for expressing reformist views on the Japanese invasion of China. Professor Shigeru Nogami (Mitsugoro Bando) is an outspoken man with some particularly unpopular political views, and for his role in speaking out against the Japanese invasion of China he is promptly jailed. In the wake of his imprisonment, Professor Nogami's devoted wife, Kayo (aka Kabei, played by Sayuri Yoshinaga), is suddenly relegated to the status of single mother. As Kayo does the best to care for the couple's two young daughters, her stern policeman father (Umenosuke Nakamura) proves little help. Thankfully for Kayo and the two children, the people of the neighborhood are more concerned with the well-being of her family than her husband's political views. One of the professor's former students in particular, the clumsy but well-meaning Yamasaki (Tadanobu Asano), does his best to ensure that the Nogami family is properly cared for until the day his mentor can return.
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
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Mitsugoro Bando
as Shigeru Nogami
Tadanobu Asano
as Toru Yamasaki
Shofukutei Tsurubei
as Senkichi Fujioka
Miku Sato
as Teruyo Nogami
Keiko Toda
as Teruyo Nogami, Adult
Mirai Shida
as Hatsuko Nogami
Tsurube Shôfukutei
as Senkichi Fujioka
Umenosuke Nakamura
as Kayo's Father
Rei Dan
as Hisako Nogami
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Kâbê (Kaabee) (Kabei: Our Mother)

Critic Reviews for Kâbê (Kaabee) (Kabei: Our Mother)

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (7)

Partly because they're relatively rare, homefront movies usually offer a fresh perspective on the tragedies of World War II. That's the case once more with Kabei: Our Mother, a sad and stirring drama from the other side of the Pacific.

July 10, 2009
Seattle Times
Top Critic

For those who prefer movies of substance, there are alternatives -- and I don't mean Terminator Salvation.

Full Review… | May 22, 2009
New York Post
Top Critic

Enriched by Mutsuo Naganuma's velvety photography, the director's restrained emotional grammar is surprisingly affecting.

May 22, 2009
New York Times
Top Critic

The film's comparisons of one woman's suffering to one nation's social descent aren't well drawn enough to escape its own melodramatic pitfalls.

Full Review… | May 20, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

Old workhorse Yamada delivers the solar plexus emotional hit of a tragic telegram with precision that shows a lifetime's practice, turning Hallmarkisms sublime.

Full Review… | May 19, 2009
Village Voice
Top Critic

Hits all the right spots to make you cry like chopping onions.

February 14, 2008
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Kâbê (Kaabee) (Kabei: Our Mother)


Synopsis: When her husband is jailed for radical scholarship and accused of being a Communist, Kayo Nogami faces the daunting task of raising two daughters -- and enduring the biting cruelties of neighborhood gossip -- all on her own. Yoji yamada is one of the premeire japanese directors actively working in the business today. A vast majority of his filmography is entries into a long running comedy series. Thus although Yamada has been working constantly since the sixties, his filmography of notable titles contains little more than a handful of films. Kabei: Our Mother is most certainly one of them. Like his previous samurai trilogy, Kabei is a period piece that conjures more comparisons to John Ford, with it's slow patience and focus on poverty-stricken familial life, than perhaps any single japanese auteur of yesteryear. Also like Yamada's Samurai trilogy, Kabei has a prominent historical narrative that foils the film's central conflicts. It's here in the annals of World War II that Kabei: Our Mother finds it's most interesting aspects. Mainly because the central tale revolving around the poor family is too bogged down with negative emotion. It's no surprise that Yamada has made a tearjerker, not after the incredible success he had with the twilight samurai after years of directing comedies. With Kabei however, the constant depression borders on overkill and quickly gets repetitive. But considering there is really little else wrong with the picture, it's hard to not eventually forgive the feature once your thoroughly invested in it's fully formed characters and evocative period setting. Though it is heavily repetitive with it's constant desire to draw emotions from it's audience, Kabei: Our Mother is nonetheless a satisfying period piece from Yoji Yamada.

aaron aaron
aaron aaron

Yoji Yamada is one of today's most brilliant directors. I have really enjoyed his period pieces, which have brought back fun memories of classic Samurai movies. Yamada has a subtle and quiet voice which he usually uses well. Kabei: Our Mother seemed like it came from a different director altogether. Set out like a series of memoirs, the film relied heavily on an intrusive narration and episodic structure. I never felt at ease, or intrigued, by the films pace. There were segments I enjoyed, most involving Asano, who kept his emotions in the open without making them obvious. The end was also very melodramatic, with screaming and crying forcing their way in. It was all very 'bitty', but each individual 'bit' had something to enjoy.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

The Japanese classicism of Ozu is alive and well in director Yôji Yamada. Sayuri Yoshinaga's complex performance as the mother in this is simply stunning

Tobias Ximénez
Tobias Ximénez

Super Reviewer

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