Based on a manga series written by Saori Oguri (portrayed by Mao Inoue in this film version) about her own life with husband Tony Laszio (Jonathan Sherr), My Darling is a Foreigner takes on a delightful look at this thing called love that's to overcome the challenges of a cross- cultural and language barrier. While it's a theme that's not new, it's the approach that director Kazuaki Ue took with a whimsically fresh look and feel that will win you over, despite falling for the usual clichés as it builds toward an expected finale.
It begins almost documentary like, with Ue interviewing a myriad of couples who are into relationships with someone non-Japanese. Curiously enough though, that all those interviewed were couples where the guy is a foreigner, not the female, so I'm not sure if it's an accurate representation of what the demographics are actually like in Japan. These interview segments take on a question each, peppered throughout the narrative as a hook to the next chapter, offering that bit of comedy at times with their candid answers (well, at least I hope they weren't staged!)
One of the best bits in the film, is of course Saori's manga coming to life in animated segments, and being a published artist, I'd say her designs are quite kawaii (cute), that provides that caricature of herself and her bearded boyfriend in their adventures of a relationship starting from their relatively disastrous third date at a friend's party. They meet through serendipity, one being a budding artist providing her artistic services, and Tony being bitten by the language bug to decide to relocate to Japan to be where the action is.
Ultimately, the story isn't just solely about the comical situations arising from things lost in translation, or the obvious problems faced through the misunderstanding of culture. Rather, it's about how relationships tend to be rocky at times once past the honeymoon stage, and how two people have to find their own workaround of their unique problems. It's about how resilient one's relationship is from the inevitable external knocks, which is almost testament to how mature and stable it is to begin with, and I suppose love knows no boundaries to allow itself an interference from outside to come and derail it, unless hope is lost and no effort expended to try and reconcile.
The film's delivery is boosted by the fine performance by the leads, not to mention that they do make a pretty couple together, and being eye candy themselves never hurt a romantic comedy. Map Inoue brings about a shy yet steely young girl who's a klutz at times, but fiercely protective of her foreigner darling and perhaps working too much and too hard to trying to make the relationship work, which presents itself as one of the main obstacles in the film, barring her dad's non-consent. And the lanky Jonathan Sherr provides ample chemistry as the man still having lots to learn of the Japanese language and culture, often finding himself perplexed at their intricacies, while grappling with the simplest things such as communication, and being that house-husband he's set out to be.
My Darling is a Foreigner has real charm - you don't have to be in a similar relationship to identify with the characters and their situation, and perhaps it'll offer you suggestions and reminders not to take things for granted as well. Recommended!
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