Cutie and the Boxer is an affecting documentary that tells the story of an underappreciated artist alongside her more famous and misogynistic husband who’s 29 years her senior. Ushio and Noriko Shinohara are two talented artists, with the former being recognized for his art involving action; that is, he punches a canvas with paint-dipped gloves and creates works that are celebrated. Noriko draws and crafts personal stories about her life, particularly about her pregnancy and how Ushio’s drunken stupors have cost them much of their past. It’s a dark tale that Zachary Heinzerling navigates intimately as a director. He cares about these people, particularly Noriko, and allows the story to dive into what drives art and how it washes over into real life. It also challenges the notion of what defines art and how hubris can challenge one’s morals. This is a dense, if slightly biased, documentary that I wished ran a bit longer; regardless, it’s an impactful, artistic filmmaking venture.
Grade: ★★★★ (out of 5)