Turtles Swim Faster Than Expected (2005) Poster

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leaving is never easy
LunarPoise13 December 2011
Writer/director Satoshi Miki offers an amusing tale of a vapid housewife who is rescued from the monotony of feeding a turtle for her tanshin funin husband by being recruited as a spy for an unstated foreign power. Life gains meaning as she strives to hone her until now taken-for-granted ordinariness.

Juri Ueno as Suzume Katakura keeps it fairly reigned in, reacting with gasp of incredulity to the slightly surreal mayhem unleashed around her by the assembled well-known comedians. There is a dancing barber, a secret ramen genius, a tofu-making small arms expert, and her friend Peacock, the quirky, charismatic Yû Aoi, who wants to live in Paris with a Frenchman and a view of the Eiffel Tower. Aoi is a great talent and it is slightly disappointing that she is under-used here. Perhaps that is deliberate, to prevent her overshadowing Ueno.

The comedy is quick-fire and this is a series of loosely connected sketches rather than a compelling narrative. Production values are low and reek of micro-budget movie-making, but the comedy is funny so all is forgiven. The star here really is Miki's script and sense of comic timing (though more visuality and less narration would have been welcome). And a relief to see a J director with a sense of economy - the 90-minute running time is just right. Pleasant fare for those who share the director's light, frothy sense of humour.
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Seeking solace from boredom
dvazp30 March 2008
This film's main attraction is Juri Ueno whose effortless charisma and charm make the film quite watchable if somewhat uneventful.

Ueno plays Suzume, a bored housewife who decides to train as a spy at the hands of a middle-aged couple. Some scenes are extremely effective, such as Suzume's attempt to order something so normal that the waitress won't remember what she ordered, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

The films moves along smoothly enough, including a de-rigeur chaotic climax with which the film concludes.

The film is enjoyable enough. Ueno is always a pleasure to watch, and the quiet charm of the film leaves you with a smile on your face.
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Great fun!
Unicorn_Blade29 October 2009
I am kind of surprised to see such low rating and bad reviews.

To be quite fair, I found the movie a fantastic entertainment. I hardly ever laugh so much during the film as I did yesterday.

First of all, I would not say that plot is nonexistent here. It is pretty chaotic, but that was the point here, and this is where the charm of Turtles lays.

I see it in a way as a parody of the detective movies with a simple plot (a crime happened, police is chasing them, the criminal is caught). Here we have no crime, the whole spying looks a bit surreal until the very end, the detectives talk nonsense most of the time, the clumsiness of the investigation is hilarious.

Many scenes look just random, but again this is why they are funny. Dancing hairdresser or the lottery with 'fabulous' prices might not add much to the development of the spy plot, but they help to create a great impression of a crazy life the main character is leading. It is the accumulation of the surprising elements and the unexpected that put the smile on my face.

You can also find bits parodying teen movies (Suzume crush on Katou, and their rendez-vous years later), and once again, I could not stop laughing how awkward, but how close to real life that was.

All in all, I think it is really worth giving it a chance, just sit back and relax, and if you don't expect a highly intellectual film, you might love it as I did.
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Turtles are not so fast after all!
acerk217 July 2009
Being a fan of Yu Aoi, I make it a priority to see all of her films....at least the ones that are available with English subs. So when I came across the hilarious online trailer for "Turtles Swim Faster Than Expected", I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Lucky for me, I found a copy with English subtitles and went into it with huge expectations. Little did I know that pretty much all of the funny moments in this film are already shown in the trailer. I could compare the experience to already knowing the punchline to a joke, but then having to go through listening to the setup.

The biggest problem with the movie is the story, or lack thereof. It does have an interesting premise, but definitely does not live up to its potential. I was quite disappointed with where the plot was going about half way into the film and the ending was just a mess! The film all too often strays away from the plot and gets down right ridiculous in some instances.

I'm glad to say that not all is lost. Juri Ueno's performance was spectacular and her on screen charisma is what makes this film at least somewhat watchable. Yu Aoi was just as charming and adorable as she is in every film, but wasn't used nearly enough. I also must comment on the song playing at the end. It was very catchy and put a smile on my face even though the movie as a whole was a big letdown. Don't get me wrong, there are some funny parts in the movie, but they are few and far between.

Overall I'm extremely disappointed even though the movie was still decent. Its more of the fact that it had so much potential and wasted it. An interesting premise + Juri and Yu would seem to be a sure thing, but instead the writers went with total absurdity + underdeveloped characters + pointless plot and thought that would somehow work.

I give the film 6/10 but that is largely due to the performances of Juri and Yu.
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Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers
Tweekums11 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I came across this film almost by chance; it was recommended on Amazon when I went to by another film. As the price was reasonable and the description sounded different I decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did as it was laugh out loud funny in several places and I found myself smiling throughout. Suzume is an ordinary housewife whose husband is away on business; when he telephones her all he is interested in is whether she has fed the pet turtle. One day as she is going about her mundane life she spots a tiny advertisement which say that anybody interested in becoming a spy should phone the given number. When she does she finds her life changing in subtle ways; having been ordered to act as ordinary as possible while awaiting an assignment she strives to do nothing that might attract attention, this is sometimes a little tricky as her friend Kujaku (Peacock) draws attention where ever she goes! She learns that several people in her town are also employed as spies for an unknown foreign country each striving to go unnoticed to the point that one is famed for his so-so ramen even though he could cook it much better.

For an impulse buy this was a real treat, there were lots of laughs and some fairly surreal humour. Juri Ueno was great as Suzume and Yû Aoi was a lot of fun as Kujaku; it is a pity her character wasn't in more, the rest of the characters were also pretty funny too. The plot was never very realistic but then it was never intended to be which is why it can be forgiven the anticlimactic but very surreal ending.
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A nice little taster for Satoshi Miki's off-the-wall humour
kjihwan7 September 2009
While there's no doubt that its willfully unassuming title will throw off at least a few high-minded film-goers, 'Turtles Swim Faster Than Expected' is an accessible and undemanding comedy that showcases director Satoshi Miki's inimitable brand of unconventional humour. Juri Ueno, already in her second cinematic lead role at the tender age of 19, plays a bored, neglected housewife who chances upon a rather small (to put it mildly) recruiting poster for spies. Her decision to join a furtive band of gloriously inactive secret agents allows her to gradually regain the sense of initiative and self-worth she once possessed in her student days but had lost along the way.

Of course, it's not nearly as formulaic or wooden as all that, and the movie above all is a vehicle for Miki to flex his comic muscles. There are some lovely moments, mostly involving the delightful pairing of Ryo Iwamatsu and Eri Fuse as the husband-and-wife team of spies who become Ueno's mentors (the restaurant scene is particularly enjoyable); and Ueno plays the painfully normal Suzume with a consummate and quiet ease which has informed all her other characters to date. She is clearly a natural actress, and coming off the heels of 'Swing Girls', here is another main part that Ueno breathes life into with such understated confidence.

Everything, however, is run through with Miki's discerning eye for the quirky which is more amusing than funny, and the movie doesn't quite reach the level of inventive tomfoolery that it clearly aspires to. 'Turtles' is determinedly low-key, lo-fi and low-maintenance, meaning that for every joke the price is exacted in meandering narrative and lack of focus. Miki also criminally wastes the charming Yu Aoi as Ueno's uninhibited friend, a character who drifts in and out of the story and fails to provide the comic momentum that is hinted at.

'Turtles' is a fairly enjoyable film in its own right, but the main interest for it lies in the fact that much of the cast and indeed style would go on to help create Miki's next project, the brilliant TV series 'Jiko Keisatsu (Limitation Police)'. For those who enjoyed 'Turtles', this comic drama is essential viewing; and if the movie left you underwhelmed, know that 'Jiko Keisatsu' is a thrilling realization of the potential Miki showed here and you could do a lot worse than checking it out.
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The movie barely manages to stay afloat, much less swim fast...
paul_haakonsen3 March 2012
After having read the reviews on Amazon, and of course as being a fan of Asian movies, then I decided to buy "Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers".

Now having sat through it, I must say that the reviews that I read seemed to belong to an entirely other movie, because I didn't find it as interesting as they did. Sure the story is not boring, but it was rather uneventful and really didn't go anywhere. There was no particular climax to the story, and it seemed far longer than an hour and a half.

The acting in "Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers" was adequate enough, though there wasn't any particularly interesting performances in the movie. The best performance was by the lead actress, Juri Ueno, however.

I was expecting more from the movie, after having read it being about spies. The plot never really fully struck home and shone through on the screen. Hand on heart, then I sit here and think that this movie was basically rather plain and unnecessary.

Now, having seen "Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers", the DVD will be bagged, tagged and placed on the shelf, most likely never ever to be seen again. It just didn't have that much appeal.
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An unfunny comedy
luke_bale22 November 2020
This film looked to be my kind of thing but so much of it just falls flat. It doesn't go much deeper than an attempt at being a comedy and unfortunately it isn't funny which means there's little left to pick out of it. It's quirky for quirky's sake. There's nothing funny about a dancing hairdresser who appears in one scene to show just how quirky he is. That's the level of comedy throughout. The acting is fine and there's some likeable characters but the story ultimately goes nowhere and is very much a vehicle to move the audience from one 'hilarious' quirky character to another.

Watch instead 'fine totally fine' or ' fuku chan of fukufuku flats' these are much more entertaining third window releases.

I was also unsurprised to see this is the same writer behind Adrift in Tokyo, a highly rated movie which I also found oddly bland and ultimately pointless.
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