Review by: Mountain Monkey
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
The word ‘quirky’ inevitably comes to mind when describing director Naoko Ogigami’s latest release, Rentaneko. Translated as ‘rent-a-cat’, the movie deals with just that, a cat rental service run by a cat-loving lady, Sayoko (Mikako Ichikawa). Ichikawa appeared in Ogigami’s sublime Megane (2007), and this time she takes on the leading role to excellent effect.
Seemingly financially-independent, with no real need to earn cash from her rental service, Sayoko carts her feline friends along the shoreline of an anonymous Japanese town, loudhailer in hand. She does this in the belief that renting cats will ‘fill up the holes in people’s hearts’. Business is slow but she meets several clients who each have their own reasons for renting a cat.
These clients are all strung together though by a common trait — loneliness — whether it’s from old age, a missing partner or just failure to make a dent in life. The real surprise though is the cat lady herself, who despite her robust spirit and social enterprise, seems to be the loneliest character of all.
As the lead, Ichikawa holds the movie together well with her understated and humorous performance (aided by a troop of adorable felines).
The slow, calming feeling from director Ogigami’s earlier films (Megane and Kamome Diner) permeates Rentaneko, and is a perfect antidote to the crazy rush of modern life. Looking forward to more movies from this talented director.