The final scene is a tear-jerker, and it is really built on a warm sense of humanism as families attempt to scratch out a living for themselves in post-war Japan. Features one of the nicest, most sympathetic husband and wife pairings in Japanese cinema, a couple who are able to push aside their initial prejudices to welcome two poor children into their house and treat them as human. The lead up to the final scene is a little rushed - the crab thing! - but it works anyway.
The camera glides and observes, taking a hoary premise ripe for overplaying and wackiness (all girl band must put on a show!) and turning it into a finely tuned portrait of adolescent life, the awkwardness and petty squabbles, and tension between internal emotion and outward expression. Emotions abound, but nothing is ever resolved, at least not as easily as your standard teen comedy-drama would have you believe. Human and deeply felt.
Fiction films about real life mass shootings always run the risk of (a) sensationalizing the actions of the psycho in question, thus leaving the icky feeling of fulfilling the said psycho's wish to be known, and (b) reveling in the cheap pathos generated by slowly leading lambs to the slaughter that the audience knows is coming. Villeneuve avoids both of these things (well, the latter more so than the former; take away the 5 or so minutes with the…