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David Michael Latt
Eriq La Salle,
Abby, four years out of college, an aimless child of privilege, comes to Tokyo to be with her boyfriend, who promptly leaves for Osaka. She wants to stay in Tokyo in hopes he'll come back to her, but she's miserable: she speaks little Japanese and has a dull job as a law-firm gopher. She stumbles into the neighborhood ramen shop operated by the aging master chef Maezumi and his wife Reiko. His soup cheers Abby, so she decides to apprentice herself to him. He's uninterested, she's insistent, so he shouts at her and gives her all the cleaning to do. Weeks go by; she's persistent. Will he ever actually teach her to cook? And if he does, will she bring the requisite spirit to the job? Written by
I think a large part of the negative reaction comes from expectations about what the film is or should be.
First of all, this is not a remake of Tampopo, nor is it about food. It actually borrows more from "Like Water for Chocolate" than Tampopo, but the food subplot is an afterthought and a bit of a distraction.
It isn't really a rom-com though there is a romantic interest in there. Nor is it really a East meets West type of thing either though that certainly is an element.
It is a story about a young girl, who like many young people have wandered aimlessly expecting that life will just happen for them. The Japanese expectation that a big company will take care of them for life is not that much different from the American expectations. Our ramen girl discovers that such a lack of passion and spirit, even when the ingredients are there and all the right steps are followed will lead to a bland soup. A simple metaphor but done fairly well.
Brittany Murphy is surprisingly good as the ramen girl and her interactions with the gruff ramen-nazi (wonderfully played by Toshiyuki Nishida) are hilarious. The development of the relationship between the two of them was very well done.
I quite enjoyed this film and recommend it as a light pleasant diversion that brings a smile to your face - like a good bowl of ramen should...
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