Title: “Cutie and the Boxer”
Director: Zachary Heinzerling
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Ushio Shinohara is an avant-garde artist who met his wife, Noriko, in 1969 in New York City. An artist in her own right, she put her career on hold to support her husband. However, after 40 years, as Ushio continues to struggle with his own career with his boxing paintings (where he uses makeshift boxing gloves covered in paint that he then uses to punch a large canvas), Noriko is finding her own creative voice again through a series of drawings called “Cutie and Bullie” that depict their own contentious relationship, and is being recognized for it.
This is actually a very sweet movie. It depicts the struggles, both personal and financial, of a lifelong artist and the toll it takes on his family. After struggling with alcoholism and depression, Ushio still hangs in there through the love and support of Noriko, who sacrifices everything for her love for Ushio. This sacrifice is not without complaint, though, and she does hold some resentment for having to stop her own art career for the sake of her husband.
However, what makes this movie so sweet is that, despite the arguing and complaining and resentment, it’s obvious that the two still love each other deeply, and one probably wouldn’t know what to do without the other. Opposites really do attract.
It’s a very touching story and the audience feels sympathy for both of them. We feel sorry for Ushio because of his struggle to create a legacy and be recognized, and we feel sorry for Noriko for having to put up with Ushio for so long, living in poverty and supporting him. Yet they don’t ask us to feel sorry for them. They’re simply telling their story and don’t really feel sorry for themselves. They recognize that this is what they chose, that this is what they need to do. The editing could use a little more work, as it sometimes feels jumpy and unsteady, but ultimately, the audience will feel that they spent their time watching this documentary well.
“Cutie and the Boxer” earns 4 out of 5 star.
“Cutie and the Boxer” is available to watch through Netflix as of this writing.