Directed by Shohei Imamura, starring Koji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu and Mitsuko Baisho.

Salesman Yosuke (Yakusho) can't do right for doing wrong. He's lost his job and home, his wife has walked away with their son and a break in the clouds is proving harder to find than his own sense of self-worth. But just when things seem like they're never going to get any better, a dying tramp buddy tells Yosuke of a gold statue he hid in a fishing village down the coast 50 years earlier.

With nothing to lose Yosuke heads off to find the booty and true to his word, the tramp's directions lead him to a house beside a red bridge. But his plans for a quick visit turn into a far longer stay once he meets Saeko (Shimizu), a beautiful woman who gives a whole new meaning to water retention. Filling up with liquid from head toe, Saeko can only obtain relief during the heights of passion or by shop lifting, and when Yosuke arrives, she figures she won't have to be taking so many trips to the supermarket…

Two-time Palme d'Or winner Imamura's latest never really lives up to its comic potential. While beautifully photographed and delicately acted, the pacing is too slow and he could say what he wants in 90 minutes as opposed to 120. Best described as Eastern Exposure, the fishing village is chock full of quirky locals - including an African student who's preparing to run a marathon, Saeko's senile but wise grandmother (Baisho) and a fisherman boss who looks like he's wandered of the set of a Takeshi Kitano film - but they deserve more screentime than they get.

Imamura tries to balance the plot between farce and the philosophical ponderings of his characters but too often the pacing falls into the doldrums just when you begin to sit up in your seat. And a few other jokes wouldn't have gone amiss either because Saeko's special talent becomes boring after the first downpour. "The real meaning of freedom is to think for yourself," muses a character at one point. You'll be doing a lot of it during this film though not necessarily about what's onscreen.

Harry Guerin