Almost Coming, Almost Dying ★★★★

There's a likely bit of truth in the way "Almost Coming, Almost Dying" slows down after a bizarre, titillating beginning: Recovery is not always hard in a way that obviously challenges someone, but it's often kind of boring and/or embarrassing, with a lot of waiting to see if something has healed properly or not being sure how to ask if this illness has affected something intimate. And so, after a fair amount of funny nudity and a themed "massage parlor" to open things up and get Manabu (Misoo No) into the hospital, the rest of the movie seldom strays far from his bed as he spends a month convalescing from a particularly ill-timed brain hemorrhage.

It could be deadly-dull stuff (although I suspect that some Americans may find six weeks of care without worries about paying for it more enticing than what comes before), but the filmmakers are good at finding the little things that are weird or unnerving or thought-provoking and giving them just enough room to play out and lead into the next one without ever seeming to focus too much on any one thing, preserving both the singular point-of-view of the autobiographical manga being adapted without making something too navel-gazing. They're also mindful of how they use the "Kumoman" mascot - a furry that personifies both Manabu's RCVS and his fear of another seizure - not letting the weird thing overtake the humans at the center or letting that fear get shunted too far aside.

It makes for a small movie, the sort of small-scale autobiographical indie that can be hard to find amid things with greater apparent import that take them more seriously, but it works in the same way that the type of comics it is based on do, injecting a little visual metaphor into something serious.