Naoko, played by the dreamy Miho Kanno (best known for her role in Takeshi Kitano’s Dolls) returns to her hometown, a fishing village on Shikoku Island, with her preschool-age daughter Momo. She’s leaving behind a messy divorce and an abusive husband. Her tough mother Masako (Mari Natsuki) runs the only hair salon in the area, “Permanent Nobara,” which provides one signature perm and a shame-free collective confessional where the local women, young and old, come to discuss their most personal love and sex issues. Topics range from the woeful brevity of the average relationship to penis sizes. Meanwhile, the local men, who are mostly sorry losers, chase after the Filipina hostesses at the only snakku in town. Will Naoko find a new beginning and true love among this happy-go-wacky group of oddballs? The odds don’t look so good at first blush, but a bit of a romance is discreetly rekindled with her high-school science teacher Kashima (Yosuke Eguchi, in a fine performance). Perhaps the answer is there. One of the funniest and strangest comedies to come out of Japan in recent years, Permanent Nobara displays Yoshida’s trademark flair for comical intermezzos, fast-paced flashbacks, and bizarre situations perfectly poised between comedy and drama. With more sting than a swarm of killer bees, this film gives you 99 minutes of biting humor and uniquely Japanese film bliss.

Presented with the support of Japan Foundation New York.