Eikichi (Ryuhei Matsuda) is the frontman of a relatively good, mildly successful Punk-Metal band. They have a small fan base, play in small venues, and have CD’s that really don’t make any money at all. While his bandmates continually dwell over whether or not to call it quits, Eikichi seems to just meander around. He lives with Yuka (Atsuko Maeda), his sweet but dim-witted fiancé who he plans on bringing home to meet his parents. Eikichi hasn’t been home in over 7 years and it’s clear there’s tension between him and his family, especially his father Osamu (Akira Emoto). His mother Haruko (Masako Motai) is more on the kind natured side and tries to welcome Eikichi back into their home, while embracing Yuka and forming a relationship with her. Things become more difficult when it’s revealed Osamu has terminal cancer in his lungs and lower spine, and so Eikichi and Yuka stay on to help the family in this time of need, build bridges and prepare to say goodbye.
Mohican Comes Home is a genre-mash, mixing elements of drama with quirky, dark comedy. Ryuhei Matsuda as the films lead Eikichi is introvert and utterly incapable of facing his feelings and responsibilities head on. The show stealer though comes from Akira Emoto as Osamu. He’s a stubborn old man who conducts a school orchestra while continuing to live an extensive party lifestyle with local friends. This of course has caught up with him in his old age and it’s hinted that perhaps his cancer could have been prevented if he had sought help from a doctor earlier on. Emoto’s loud, dominating performance plays off Matsuda’s more reserved style as the torn father and son dynamic is evident from the get go. Maeda’s Yuka and Motai’s Haruko is a welcomed change of pace as the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law to be bond over Yuka’s need for a motherly figure to teach her to be strong and embrace all the challenges that a domesticated life will bring. It’s the characters and relationships that really shine through in this film.
‘Mohican’ tries to be quirky and mostly succeeds, largely between the relationship between Eikichi and his father, though Osamu and Haruko have good moments as well as tender scenes between Haruko and Yuka. However, these alone aren’t enough to label this film an outright comedy, and big laugh out loud moments are few and far between. This leans more towards the drama side, but those looking for a film that packs a real emotional punch should probably steer clear of Mohican Comes Home, as the film never really becomes hard-hitting. The biggest strength is the way it looks at the estranged family under a microscope. Eikichi is detached from his feelings, struggling to accept all the responsibilities that now face him. He tries, but you sense there’s a connection loose somewhere inside of him. The way the family deals with the impending trauma heading their way is quirky, but never really commits to either genre enough to allow us to sustain a vested interest.
While it’s a slow starter, it takes about an hour for the story to really get going. Mohican Comes Home is a decent character driven plot that, while not innovative or ground breaking, is a strong character driven narrative that will please.