This is film is adapted from a biography of the famous artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi with the focus on Noguchi's mother, (American) Leonie Gilmour.
Leonie was educated at Bryn Mawr, but she understood that her strong interest in poetry had to come from experience not books. This is how she met a Japanese writer Yone Noguchi, the father of her son Isamu. Leonie had struggles, as a single mother of Isamu and later of her daughter Ailes Gimour. This film presents the portrait of a woman, mother, writer with a love of life and art that she passed down to both children.
The cinematography is beautiful whether focused on America or Japan. The direction never is off, the film flows. The soundtrack made a beautiful frame to hold this movie. While Emily Mortimer as Leonie was the standout performance, all the actors, whether speaking English or Japanese, were uniformly strong and fully realized personalities. Looking at the credits, I can see why this movie is such a successful balance between West and East.
Stay for the credits to see some of the accomplishments of Isamu Noguchi. Accomplishments which never would have existed without the Leonie's life and choices. I wish this movie was hours longer, but it is a beautiful testament to a unique woman and art.
Aided by a very good lead performance from Emily Mortimer, "Leonie" seeks to tell the story of a true life pioneer who battled the patriarchy on two separate continents. Ironically, this was as Japan was modernizing, leaving behind some of its feudal ways, but becoming just as entrenched in others. And at the same time, the movie counterintuitively tries to undermine Leonie by reinforcing her traditional role as a mother, in this case, of Isamu Noguchi, a noted sculptor and not just in a by the way sort of fashion, either.