Monday, 4 March 2013

Tampopo (1985) - Mini Review

Tampopo is a truly unique film and a difficult one to put into writing. In the “simplest” of terms, it’s an endearing and genuinely charming comedy that blends distinct characters with Japan’s rather “quirky” obsession/love with food. Labeled a “Ramen Western”, the film follows a pair of truck drivers, Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and Gun (Ken Watanabe), as they attempt to turn widowed noodle shop owner Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto) into a master of the “Art of Ramen”. Yet the structure of Tampopo is a surprisingly diverse one that follows a branching set of sketches and stories that all intersect the main plot. Whether it’s the heartwarming tale of a dying mother cooking the family’s last meal, or Koji Yakusho playing a white-suited yakuza who breaks the fourth-wall, or a bunch of eccentric homeless people with exquisite palates, the film continuously offers a multiplicity of charm and personality. Coincidently director Juzo Itami’s satirical approach manages to present each of these mini-narratives in amusing ways and styles; from cliche romances, to the cooking show vibe of overhead angles and over-exaggerated character reactions. In my books, Tampopo is a modern Japanese classic that has the right balance of character and quirkiness to offer a film that’s extremely funny and has plenty of heart and spirit. 

Highly Recommended.


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