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Cafe Lumiere [2004] [DVD]

 Universal, suitable for all   DVD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: £5.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Cafe Lumiere [2004] [DVD] + Flight of the Red Balloon/The Red Balloon (2 discs) [DVD]
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Product details

  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Drakes Avenue
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Sep 2005
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,186 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Café Lumiere follows the travails of Yoko, an independent young woman living in contemporary Japan. Three months pregnant but with no intention of marrying the father, she must deal with the concerns of her parents and the pressures of her hectic modern life.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful film 28 May 2006
If a story should have a beginning, middle and an end, then this film, rather than a story is a fictional documentary. The camera follows the main character Yoko - a twenty something living on her own in Tokyo, for a few days or weeks as she goes about her normal life. Slow paced and gentle, though with an undercurrent of uneasiness reflected by Jaing Ewn-Ye's music and Yoko's interest in an obscure and sinister Goblin fairy tale of European origin, the viewer is forever trying to make the connections and unravel the apparently obscure plot-only to find that there isn't one, or if there is it is not to be revealed to us.

The absence of a grand narrative allow the attention to small details to slowly but persistently paint an essence of life in Tokyo and Japan and of the relation ship between parent and child. In such a way the second character Hajime, who is obsessed with trains attempts to capture the essence of the Tokyo railways by regularly riding the trains and standing on the platforms with a microphone recording for hours the repetitive and everyday sounds of the tracks.

The movie is a homage to Yasujiro Ozu by director Hou Hsiao-hsien, viewers may also detect an influence from the books of Haruki Murakami - in the convincing descriptions of the mundane and ordinary, Hajime's idiosyncratic obsession, and the allusion to the fantastic and mystical when Yoko finds the strange dream that she had a few nights before eerily similar to a story in a children's fairy tale book about Goblins. To those that liked this movie I would recommend Murakami's books and the movie Chunking Express.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
"Cafe Lumiere" is the homage that Hou Hsiao-hsien, a Taiwanese director, paid to Yasujiro Ozu, a Japanese director renowned for the way in which he managed to depict the dynamics of family life and the inner life of his characters.

Did he succeed? I think so, due to the fact that he manages to put the spectator in the place of Yoko, a young woman that is pregnant but doesn't feel like marrying her boyfriend, a grown man that remains too attached to his mother. As we watch "Cafe Lumiere", we want to know what she thinks, and how she is going to react to the new development in her life. The spectator is also interested in her friend, a bookstore owner that seems romantically interested in Yoko, and that has an unlikely but strangely poetic hobby.

Are you likely to enjoy this movie? I really don't know, because "Café Lumiere" is a peculiar movie, the kind that some love, but others hate. I can tell you that it is a beautifully made film that pays extraordinary attention to little details, but that has an extremely open ending. Can you like that kind of film? According to your answer, you will know what to do...

- Belen Alcat, June 2007 -

PS: I liked "Café Lumiere" well enough to give it at least 3 stars out of 5.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beatiful film, poor presentation 21 Aug 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a review of DVD technical aspects, not the film on it.
Amazon product details promise "Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1". But specification on the sleeve reads "16:9 Letterbox" and so it is - a picture in the middle of your screen, taking up about half its size. And even on such a small screen the image quality is quite poor. This needs a TV screen up to 42" and a DVD player with a powerful PQ enhancement. At first I thought it's an artistic stylization, some kind of tribute, that would dissolve after the credit sequence. It didn't...
Another issue is subtitles - English, yes, but hardcoded and with a font making them illegible when background goes bright.
And sound quality wasn't impressive either, far from it...
So, the disc quality itself would get a clear 1-star rating. Still I don't know the technical limitation of a source material and after all let's be grateful such films are available at all. Hence the extra 2 stars.
Really, after the initial resentment eased off, I put the disc back into my player and it took me just a few minutes to forget all about the poor transfer quality, such was a beauty of this film. So, don't let yourself be put off by grumblers like me and go for films like that, whatever the quality of their presentation is.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delight through simplicity 3 Jun 2007
It would be fair to say that if you're the type of person who needs 'something to happen'- i.e. a plot hook, to involve you in a film experience then it would be best you avoid 'Cafe Lumiere'. However, if you would enjoy watching life gently unwinding through a series of simple and beautiful observations devoid of brutal articulation or agenda then this will certainly appeal to you. The speechless father is an hilarious treat!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding ode on so many levels 2 Feb 2013
By Paul Allaer TOP 500 REVIEWER
Movie: 3.5 stars; Bonus materials: 4.5 stars

"Cafe Lumiere" (2003 release from Japan; 104 min.) starts off with informing us that this movie is a homage to the centenary of the birth of famed Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. As the movie then stars, we follow a young woman, Yoko, as she lives her daily life. She takes care of her (very small) apartment in Tokyo. She goes to visit her parents in suburban Tokyo. She is following up on leads for a story she wants to write about a Taiwanese composer Jiang Wen-Ye, who ncame to Japan at a young age (and whose work is featured on the soundtrack). She even reveals that she is pregnant and has no intention to marry the baby-daddy, a far-away boyfriend in Taiwan. She also befriends a bookshop owner who in his spare time loves to record the sounds of the trains and tramcars in the vast public transportation system in Tokyo.

Several comments: the movie may puzzle some, as seemingly not much is happening, other than we follow Yoko in her daily life. But notice how much time is spent on the trains and tramways transportation system in Tokyo, which the director brings onto the screen at times almost like a ballet, just mesmorizing. But this movie should NOT be viewed in isolation. If you are, like I was, more or less ignorant about Japanese director Ozu, by all means make sure to check out the bonus materials of this DVD release, including interviews with the director and the actress portraying Yoko. Most essential of all is the bonus documentary called "Metro Lumiere", a 75 min. French documentary that delves into the nitty gritty of Japanese director Ozu, and how Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien became involved in this and ultimately directed the movie. After having seen the actual movie, I thought this documentary was simply fantastic in bringing new perspectives, and in that sense I rate it higher than the movie itself. A must-see for movie buffs.
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