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While many American women were living as housewives, wanting for nothing and stuck in routine, Leonie Gilmour was leading an unconventional life as an editor, teacher, lover and mother—in Japan. Hisako Matsui’s 2010 biopic takes us through the life of the titular character, best known for being the mother of artist and architect Isamu Noguchi. Beginning in New York in 1901, we’re introduced to Leonie (Emily Mortimer) as she accepts a job as editor for a Japanese poet, Yone Noguchi. Leonie soon becomes pregnant by Yone and later moves to Japan, where she becomes pregnant with another man’s child, who she raises on her own. Mortimer turns in a strong and resolute performance, and the film features lush shots of leafy trees and snow-capped mountains, but it suffers from a plodding plot and a near-complete lack of relationship development. In one scene, Leonie says she loves a friend’s children as her own, even though we’ve seen no interaction between her and the kids. In another, she pronounces a woman her best friend—never mind that they’ve hardly conversed. These sentiments are unearned and slightly baffling, which detracts from the film’s relatability.

Special Note

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  • Release Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Critic's Score: D
  • Watch the trailer

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