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Cutie and The Boxer follows the journey of New York based Japanese artist duo Ushio Shinohara and Noriko Shinohara. ‘Cutie’ which definitely is the pet name for the wife has since her arrival to New York in her early twenties adored the intensity of emotions Ushio puts into his art. Boxer has been a name to proclaim one of his art techniques of dipping paint on his boxing gloves and punching on a blank canvas.

They are 20 years apart, but her admiration and her own idealism of constantly affirming “Art is everything” has made Noriko decide a grave turn in her life from security and wealth to pursue her yearning for the arts and for the man she wishes to emulate.

Throughout the documentary, we evaluate the study of contrast. Ushio has always been the boastful center of attention both in the relationship and his own artwork. His artwork has always been bursting with chaos, paint exploding in colors, ordinary items piled together into abstract form as if symbolic to his fiery persona. While Noriko, always the sensible one remains quiet and at times gullible to the audacity and struggle Ushio often places her in. She remains the sensitive one but doubtful of her own sense in the arts, although clearly she might be the one who deserves the recognition.

Cutie and The Boxer takes us into the complexity of a relationship – the constant disagreements, the undying support, and the oddities of remaining faithful to your partner. Towards the end, Boxers asks Cutie a question as she uplifts her sense of being, “Does Cutie hate Boxer?” To which she replies, “No, Cutie loves Boxer very much.” As she slowly lifts herself from the shadow she has lived for years and brush her own sense of identity.

– Athina Ibrahim