quiet but insightful little film probably won’t make much of a splash
outside the film festival circuit – and that’s kind of a shame.
Essentially, Littlerock is a look at the United States from the
viewpoint of its visitors – a fascinating, beautiful place and yet at the
same time frustrating and mysterious.
tells the story of Atsuko (Atsuko Okatsuko) and Rintaro (Rintaro Sawamoto),
a Japanese sister and brother who are taking a short trip through the US.
Rintaro speaks a bit of English, Atsuko almost none. They have apparently
taken the trip against the wishes of their father from whom Rintaro has
become estranged. (Atsuko writes him periodically through the trip, giving
dad a rather
white-washed version of their adventures.)
story revolves around time spent when the siblings’ rental car breaks down
in the titular town – a small desert dot on the map in the outskirts of Los
Angeles. That night when they are stuck in a little motel, Rintaro goes to
ask some loud neighbors to quiet down. It turns out that it is a party and
he decides to hang and have a few beers with the guys.
sister shows up too and captures the attention of a couple of the locals.
Cory (Cory Zacharia) is a slightly nerdy and slightly delusional wannabe
model, who takes Atsuko under his wing – even though they can’t understand
each other – and sort of assumes because she doesn’t know how to say no she
must be into him too.
brother quickly loses patience for the local guys who have no jobs or
ambitions, just hanging out drinking and smoking all the time. (“What’s
there to do with these people?” Rintaro asks Atsuko, scornfully.)
However, Atsuko is enjoying being the center of so much attention and finds
this new world strangely seductive.
Still, the one person she seems to bond with the most is Francisco, an
illegal migrant worker from Mexico who also can’t speak the language. In a
fascinating scene in which Cory, Francisco and Atsuko work together at a
local Mexican restaurant, it is fascinating how Francisco and Atsuko come to
understand each other simply through gestures, tone of voice and body
language – and how completely that kind of communication
is beyond Cory’s grasp.
eventually learn Rintaro and Atsuko’s real reason for the visit – to see a
Japanese internment camp from World War II which their grandfather was held
at. It seems like it could be an obvious and heavy-handed ploy, but the
scenes when they do visit turn out to be handled with grace and dignity.
is also something you can say about this film in general. It is quiet and
thoughtful, but real life is being lived here.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: September 2, 2011.