This animated biopic—about a 19th-century Japanese artist and his artist daughter, O-Ei—is less than the sum of its parts, and its parts seem interesting: debates about art, some of which is grotesque; the contrast between the art O-Ei draws—erotica—and her repressed, sexually inexperienced nature; a quasi-lesbian scene; clear-eyed conversations about life and death, heaven and hell; and a warmly melancholic atmosphere. Yet, whether one wants to call it incidental or episodic, Miss Hokusai doesn’t seem to have a plot, which is why its scenes slid off us like a wet cloth thrown against a pane of glass. Thud rhymes with dud.
Subtitled, from an awkward Japanese translation.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White