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Sakura Ando Filmography


From Sion Sono’s Love Exposure to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme d’Or-winning drama Shoplifters, Ando’s filmography has been growing with every new role. She effortlessly carries each narrative, shifting between unkempt frumpiness and a cool, distanced reserve to an animated kineticism.

For her final brutal boxing scene, Ando devoted ten days to training and learning how to take real punches. Her commitment to her craft reveals itself throughout the film, with her body and movement acting as an externalization of deep inner emotion.

Love Exposure

Love Exposure marked Ando’s major film debut and was a breakout role for her. Sono’s film spanned global themes, from incest to murder and explored the delicate balance between service and self-discovery. She delivered a nuanced performance, subtly revealing Sawa’s complexities. Her portrayal of the young woman’s resilience and empathetic connection with the men she served was masterful.

The film tackles the issues of broken families, cultish religion and perversion with a sardonic sense of humor. It’s a wild ride through the extremes of human behavior and it’s a fascinating character study.

The premise of the film is based on true events and it was Sion Sono’s response to Japanese films of the time that portrayed nuclear family dramas. Sono argues that modern Japanese families are not peaceful and they have become broken. His cynical concept of libertarianism is evident in the way that he treats family and religion as potentially nourishing institutions but are only beneficial in theory.

100 Yen Love

Director Masaharu Take brings his trademark gritty style to a slacker comedy in this film starring Sakura Ando as slacker Ichiko. After a blowout fight with her recently divorced sister, 32-year-old Ichiko leaves her parents’ house and moves to a local 100 yen store (what we might call a dollar store). On the way to work she passes by a boxing gym and watches amateur boxer Yuji Kano train silently.

Initially baggy and aimless, the story tightens up and the ramshackle bluesy score becomes more punchy as it shifts into Rocky mode for the training montage. Ando’s performance as the slacker turned boxer is remarkable. She transforms into a hard-working heroine that’s not quite a hero but still inspires audiences.

This m4u free movie is a good example of the genre and a solid showcase for Ando’s talent. It’s a welcome change of pace from her bombastic major film debut in Love Exposure and marks a strong entry into the world of Japanese independent cinema. She continues to expand her range and is one of the best actresses working today.

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Whether enacting the near-somnambulism of a Bressonian model or the wild odyssey of a cult member, Ando remains a master at her craft, effortlessly navigating her roles with a refined oscillation between disaffection and bursts of fervor. Her arc as a widow consumed by the search for truth in Ando’s latest film, A Man, is an immersive example of her skillful dexterity.

Her performance in 100 Yen Love, which follows a reclusive thirty-something’s transformation from aimless spectator to determined participant, is equally compelling. Ichiko’s descent into the gritty world of amateur boxing is a physical and emotional journey, and Ando imbues her character’s gradual metamorphosis with raw authenticity. The actress’s ability to teeter between acting restraint and idleness is a potent narrative force, even as the plot flounders from scene to episode.


Director Hirokazu Koreeda focuses on resilient underprivileged families in his Shoplifters, a film that deservedly won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year. The story opens with a perfectly calibrated scene that introduces us to the members of the Shibata family, three generations crammed into a small apartment and struggling to make ends meet. The adults work menial jobs, shoplift trinkets, and are prone to gambling at the local pachinko parlors.

Osamu (Franky Lily) is a casual laborer on construction sites who also teaches his son Shota (Jyo Kairi) to steal when they go out shopping. His wife Nobuyo (Sakura Ando) works in a hotel laundry and she and her daughter Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) regularly raid the pockets of other people’s clothes to eke out a living. Their matriarch grandmother Hatsue (Kirin Kiki) supports the family with her pension but also tries to guilt-trip them into contributing to her gambling addiction.

Ando brings a compassionate touch to the role of Nobuyo, and demonstrates an ability to externalize deep inner emotion with her body language. Her performance is one of her finest. Koreeda’s deft handling of the material, his careful pacing and the judicious spacing of shocks and surprises makes for a gripping film.


Sakura Ando continues her remarkable rise through Hirokazu Kore-eda’s work, taking up more and more space in his films, able to swell with energy when needed and disappear into her own stoic worldview. She stars in the recent Cannes Competition entry Monster, scripted by Yuji Sakamoto and playing the mother of a young boy who begins acting oddly at school and at home. Eita Nagayama, Mitsuki Takahata, and Kakuta Akihiro round out the rest of the cast.

Like all of Kore-eda’s works, the film is formally complex and rhythmic, capturing the sense of an everyday life that is both mundane and utterly compelling. Using empathy as his method of manipulation, the filmmaker explores each character’s underlying motivations to reveal a tense story about identity and belief. Despite the darkness of the narrative, the final image is one of reconciliation and hope. Kore-eda once again shows why he is a modern master of the human condition.

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