At one point, she compares their relationship to two flowers living in a single pot. They can fight for nutrients and diminish each other, but at the best of times, they grow together. The film leads us to see Ushio as having taken from the relationship at the service of his career as an internationally well-known visual artist. Unfortunately, he has not transformed his artistic success into financial stability. They live in cramped space, struggling to pay rent and utilities every month while the ceiling leaks. This is due to his impractical nature and history of alcoholism, which their son appears to have copied. He appears to be endowed with only intermittent self-awareness of his impact on his wife, who is 20 years younger than him. Noriko, for her part, sacrificed her artistic aspirations to manage their chaotic household and raise their son.
The narrative centres around the preparations for their first shared show. Ushio has the main room while Noriko takes over a side room with floor to ceiling canvases depicting her relationship with Ushio. It is in a comic book/graphic novel, unflinching in showing the heartache and disappointments of their relationship, particularly the first years that set the stage for her withdrawal from her artistic practice. Her content is raw and unflinching - especially for Ushio, who is called Bullie in the story. His flaws, failings, errors and shortcomings are put on public display. When he sees it, he squirms but does his best to be encouraging. This project appears to be her catharsis and way of getting back her artistic self-esteem. The movie ends with each of them working near each other on their projects in their apartment, suggesting she is ready to resume the career she put on hold.
The originality of this documentary is in its showing of how an artist couple do not cooperate. Most other couples we hear about work together, at least for a time. In this case, it never happened and it’s hard to imagine that they will ever work together. Ushio clearly feels superior and is uncomfortable with Noriko being in the same exhibit with him. In his mind, she was his assistant and support - but not an artist. Subtly but clearly highlighting their tension makes the documentary original and poignant.