Japanese animator Satoshi Kon has a striking sense of composition, but I'm more impressed by his storytelling skills; his previous feature, Millennium Actress, was a highly ambitious tale with a sweeping sense of contemporary Japanese history. The three main characters of this 2003 feature are homeless—one a decadent gambler, another a transvestite, the third a young woman who's fled her abusive father. When they find an abandoned infant in a pile of garbage, the transvestite refuses to part with it, which forces all three to deal with their pasts. Except for a bathetic ending, Kon transcends his corny premise, leavening its sentiment with irony and a mercilessly downbeat vision of metropolitan Japan. PG-13, 91 min.
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