Zachary Heinzerling's CUTIE AND THE BOXER
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Not being an artist myself I’ve long been mystified by how people define what is “art” and what’s not. Zachary Heinzerling’s CUTIE AND THE BOXER takes a different tack and explores the relationship between people who make art and what art means to them on a very personal level.
What is especially appealing about the film is how the layers of the relationship between the married artists — Ushio and his wife Nariko — are peeled back as Nariko, long in the shadow of her more famous husband, finds her own artistic voice.
This is a “warts and all” film especially when it comes to detailing the troubled 40 year relationship between Ushio and Nariko and how they have dealt with alcoholism, poverty, and artistic struggles. People in dire situations tended to grasp at straws and we see that repeatedly here as the couple — Ushio is now 80 — is going to pay the next month’s rent. The film also reveals fine nuances of the couple as they struggle with their situation and with each other.
I don’t much care for Ushio’s art, much of which is generated by his slamming paint-dunked boxing gloves against a huge wall-hung canvas. But apparently some folks have an eye for that stuff (or did at one time). Who am I to judge? But it’s an engrossing film especially as we watch Nariko finally blossom with her much more human focus on drawing and storytelling.
Review copyright (c) 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald