Hana, who had been living in Tokyo, starts life in the countryside with her friend Toki and Toki’s daughter Toshi, an elementary school student. It is a life that they are unaccustomed to. Hana is a writer and goes to Tokyo occasionally for work, but realises anew the merits of the life she has just begun in the countryside. She also brings her troubled nephew Akira who has just graduated from junior high school. The two women and two children are helped in their new makeshift family life by the supportive couple Gen and Shiori, who live nearby and give advice in various ways such as how to tend the fields and raise livestock. Little by little, they get used to the daily work. Toki’s natural ability to make things also becomes essential to their lives. In the middle of this, a new family member, Tom the cat, arrives. Kept to get rid of rats, the mischievous black and white feline twists the humans around a little and breathes new life into their lives.
And I felt sorry for the actors here too, especially the adult ones. There was little to no chance to show off much by way of dramatic range or skill. Although they played their characters well, I get the impression none of it was a stretch for them.
As a standalone movie, it's a bit boring, unless perhaps one is homesick for the countryside, and dreams of a slower way of life. It's not what I was expecting, considering the original children's story likely has scope for more action one way or another.
A Japanese version of the original book can be found here: http://www.yesasia.com/us/yama-no-tomusan-hoka-itsupen-fukuinkan-bunko-%EF%BD%93-60/1024366568-0-0-0-en/info.html
However, given the story was originally published decades ago, it could be out of print. I have so far been unable to find an English or third language translation of it.