Cutie and the Boxer (2013)

cutie and the boxer poster 2013 documentary
8.5 Overall Score

Good story about love, regret, and art


Movie Info

Movie Name: Cutie and the Boxer

Studio: Cine Mosaic

Genre(s): Documentary

Release Date(s):  January 19, 2013 (Sundance)/August 16, 2013

MPAA Rating: R

cutie and the bully ushio shinohara sculptures

Running with Warhol to scraping to get by

Ushio Shinohara rose to fame in Japan and moved to New York City as the modern art movement came into swing.  His unusual style of art and boxing paintings garnered fame but unfortunately not fortune.  Married to Ushino at a young age Noriko Shinohara has spent her life in Ushino’s big personality and shadow, but she too has been working on her own style of art.  Now, Noriko is getting her shot at an exhibit and her art which reflects her life and relationship with her husband is going to be seen by all.

Directed by Zachary Heinzerling, Cutie and the Boxer is a documentary film.  The movie premiered at Sundance and received positive reviews.  An award winner, the film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Cutie and the Boxer was one of the few movies I never got to from the nominated films.  It wasn’t available on any platforms when the nominations were released so I kind of forgot about the film.  Finally getting to see the movie, it is different than I expected and a nice look at dreams deferred.

cutie and the boxer noriko shinohara art

Noriko gets her exhibit

While there are so many movies about tortured artists, Cutie and the Boxer has a more real feel to it since it is real.  Ushio Shinohara is filled with doubt about his art and the legitimacy of it (as seen through flashbacks) and though he was hanging out with people like Andy Warhol, he is now struggling to pay bills.  Despite turning eighty, he’s the irresponsible one of the couple.

The burden of Ushio Shinohara’s actions falls on his wife Noriko.  Noriko had her own dreams, her own art, and her own style.  It is obvious in the film that the exhibition that Noriko gets is more of a result about what she says about Ushio in her Cutie artwork.  She married too young, too quickly, and had a child as a result (who followed in his father’s footsteps in his behavior).  She is trapped and feels her art never came to be because of being in Ushio’s shadow.

cutie and the boxer ushio shinohara noriko

Cutie loves Bully

The film does a great job exploring both Noriko and Ushio.  It benefits from previous documentaries and new stories about Ushio which it works into the presentation.  A documentary about art should be artistic and the movie is nicely shot and incorporates things like the new footage to tell a new story about Noriko and Ushio.  It also is a great throwback to the legendary period of art in New York City that changed modern art forever.

Despite the discord presented in the movie, Cutie and the Boxer does show a deeper love between the two.  Ushio and Noriko maybe cannot proclaim it like a normal couple, but they do need each other.  Both artists are full of doubt and even some jealousy, but they seem to be pretty honest about their feelings.  This honesty is both heartwarming and sad in that struggles do exist, but they manage to get through them.  Check out Cutie and the Boxer for a story about art, love, and regret.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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