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Cutie and the Boxer – Review – movieScope

Cutie and the Boxer – Review

Director Zachary Heinzerling spent five years observing married couple Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, piecing together the life they have carved out with one another in New York. The outcome, Cutie and the Boxer, is a deeply profound and exquisitely crafted documentary that examines the big picture when it comes to relationships and artistic ambition.

Ushio Shinohara made a name for himself in the 1960s with his action paintings and oversized sculptures made from materials found on the streets. Noriko has only recently found fame with her comic style paintings, which depict her move from Japan to New York, her early relationship with her alcoholic husband and the sacrifices she has had to make in order to support Ushio’s artistic career.

Noriko’s paintings are brought to life with animation, providing an excellent, imaginative insight into her mind. Heinzerling captures the couple’s playful banter, but illuminates the sadness behind it with some extremely personal archive footage which illustrates Ushio’s artistic anguish. Though distressing to watch, the reasons Ushio feels compelled to continue as he does are made clear.

Noriko doesn’t like those ‘Hollywood-style endings’ and Heinzerling certainly takes this on board. In showing life after the first kiss, he has produced an insightful, inspiring and perfectly balanced love story, which encourages its audiences to fall for both subjects despite first impressions. 

5 stars

For more information and screening details, visit the Cutie and the Boxer website