Mai Tominaga’s “Wool 100%” is centered around the lives of Ume and Kame, a pair of elderly sisters who live in an old mansion overflowing with junk they’ve salvaged from their daily excursions through neighborhood trash cans and garbage dumps. They keep elaborate illustrated records of everything they collect, from dolls to barbershop signs to pencil sharpeners to balls of red wool.
Actually, the red wool creates problems for the sisters. It seems a mysterious girl comes into their home, knitting a monstrous sweater from their red wool. When she is completed with her needlework, she lets out a lethal scream and cries that she has to knit the garment all over again.
The sisters initially ignore the girl, hoping she will leave. She doesn’t. The sisters, not knowing her real name, dub her Aminaoshi (“knit it over”). But when Aminaoshi seems to suddenly become pregnant, it unleashes a skein of long-buried emotions relating to the sisters’ warped teen years.
Fans of David Lynch’s brand of deadpan surrealism will get a kick from the disturbing yet oddly endearing world created here. Kudos are in order for the film’s art direction and set design team – rarely has a junk-filled home looked so elaborate and inviting.
And special praise is deserved for Kyoko Kishida and Kazuko Yoshiyuki as Ume and Kame. The actresses are a deliciously droll pair and their unlikely adventures become so charming (albeit in a deranged sort of way) that one could hope Tominaga will bring these characters for further adventures.