Ghosts become flesh and blood, and the living learn to die in I WAS A SIMPLE MAN, the long-awaited sophomore feature from Christopher Makoto Yogi (AUGUST AT AKIKO’S, HIFF 2018). Masao (Steve Iwamoto) is an aging man with few companions other than his dog, and their life on Oahu’s North Shore initially seems tranquil and undisturbed. But when he receives news from his doctors that he’s not long for this world, his life’s regrets and the sources of his isolation begin to surface, like a slowly rising tide.
Previously distant sons and daughters trickle into Masao’s home as he becomes bed-ridden, navigating his end-of-life needs as well as their own conflicted feelings about caring for a man who was absent from their lives. Most mysteriously, Masao’s late wife, Grace (Constance Wu), appears to him, triggering flashbacks to the storied past Masao must learn to confront. I WAS A SIMPLE MAN is a languorous and haunting character study that intertwines personal and historical traumas across the sweep of Hawai‘i’s long 20th century. What does it take to come face-to-face with the past, and to reckon with it?