A Normal Life: Chronicle of a Sumo Wrestler

Jill Coulon, 83 min, Japan, France.

Becoming a professional sumo wrestler can be a lucrative career choice for young Japanese men. Eighteen-year-old Takuya gives in to his father's wishes and enrolls in a sumo school, even though he prefers judo. Takuya swaps his trendy clothes for the traditional Japanese kimono and moves to Tokyo. His father has a warning for him as he leaves: "Do you realize there is no place for you if you come back?" Debut filmmaker Jill Coulon follows the young man during the first nine months of his training. The camera records the preparations for tournaments, sponsors' dinners, and the routine of the sumo school, allowing the audience to share Takuya's new experiences. Takuya struggles with the strict training, having to eat huge amounts of food, and the hard work at the school. He misses his friends from Asahikawa, the village where he grew up. As a new boy at the school, he has to act as a personal servant to the older sumo wrestlers, who lie around the training area like beached whales and always seem to be in a bad mood. Takuya talks about his doubts about this new life in voice-over while washing the older wrestlers' belts in the Laundromat at night. As time goes on, this Japanese teenager starts to long for just one thing: a normal life.