The Ramen Girl
I really did not know what to expect from this 2008 Film starring the Late Brittany Murphy, but as it looked like a novel idea, and was set in Japan I thought why not give it a go.
Even though a romantic rom-com, the brunt of the film is about Brittany's character Abby.
Abby is a young girl who does not really know what she wants to do in life, in the real world do we have a choice?.
I think most people go with the flow and what happens, happens.
After flying to Tokyo to be with her boyfriend only to be left stranded by a said boyfriend when he decides it's time to move on when he gets a job offer in Osaka, but there's no place for Abby to tag along.
Feeling distraught the young girl who has a boring desk job one night visits a local Ramen shop and ends up pouring out her heart to the owners who have no idea what she's going on about as they are Japanese speakers only.
After getting her fill of the warm noodles, vegetables and meat the young girl leaves. Returning the next day in a better state of mind and becomes obsessed about how such a small little noodle business can bring so many people together regardless of language.
Again she returns and sees that the owners' wife Reiko has a foot injury and decides she will wait on the tables to the bemusement of Reiko and her husband Maezumi the Ramen chef.
In a flash Abby decides that her goal shall be to become a Ramen chef and tries to convince Maezumi to teach her the trade.
In a bid to get rid of this crazy girl Maezumi tells her to go and come the next day at 5am, thinking she won't turn up as it's only fours away and he'll be rid of her.
But next morning at 5am Abby is there banging on the shop door, Maezumi gets up and opens the door half asleep and points to a stack of pots and dishes that need scrubbing, and goes back to bed again in hope that the crazy American girl will just go away.
What makes this film work is the whole language barrier, other than a few English speakers within the film all the other cast speak only Japanese, and if like me you viewed this on Amazon Prime video, there are no subtitles for the Japanese.
You only understand what Abby's saying or the odd Japanese word if you're lucky to know any. Yes, there are other English speakers but their roles are small and for the most part, you're dealing with the relationship between Abby and Maezumi for the most part who basically shout at each other and point at objects to get the desired reaction.
Like anything in Japan, food is as important as anywhere in the world, but presentation and how meals are prepared are like a ritual in Japan. Ramen is a noodle-based soup with vegetables, Scallions, and slices of meat all carefully prepared and placed in a large bowl where it all floats in a specially made broth-like soup. See your mouths watering now is it not?.
Abby just wants to find her vocation in life and if being a Ramen chef is her goal then why not?.
From belittling her by getting her to scrub the toilet and whatever else he can find her to clean Maezumi basically hopes she will give up.
But something in Abby pushes forward in trying to convince Maezumi to teach her the business.
She continues even when she prepares her own broth and he just picks it up and trashes it down the sink.
The setting of the film is quaint in its small streets of suburban Tokyo and the authentic casting of some really talented Japanese actors and actresses gives the film a style and presence to the proceedings.
Abby calls Maezumi by Sensei, teacher as we all know, the word applies to all teachings and the journey Abby goes on is one of learning a traditional art.
The film has its hidden story subplots, more so if you are viewing without any English subtitles for the Japanese language. You kind of follow it differently by viewing it like this though.
You kind of feel the frustration of Abby not understanding a word anybody says to her.
The film won't win any awards for originality, though the basis for the story is unique.
Also, you can see what the endings going to be like as these types of films often end on a high note, but maybe not entirely as you imagined.
Brittany Murphy gives a stellar performance here, she will make you laugh, make you frustrated and feel sorry for her. As for her co-star the legendary Toshiyuki Nishida he's brilliant as the grumpy Ramen Chef who just wants to be left alone, though this is due to his own hardships and sadness.
The Ramen Girl is a fun rom-com with an Asian flavour that simmers at first, then boils to perfection to its last Noodle.
Review by: Sertes Nake
Review Date: 03-10-2021
A fun rom-com with an Asian flavour that simmers at first, then boils to perfection to its last Noodle.