DVD Review: Mitsuko Delivers – A Film By Yuya Ishii
Oddly quirky, fun and at times nonchalant!
Mitsuko (Naka Riisa) is a helpful and kind woman who will always do her level best to look after family and friends alike, yet who doesn’t seem to get an easy run in life. Through her life experiences she ends up meeting an American male with the intention of helping him out too, but it gets more complicated than that. She finds herself falling in love with him, and has a short relationship with him, which has her moving to California. Their relationship doesn’t quite work out the way she wanted it to, and he leaves her while she decides to move away, back to Japan. Her real problems start when she finds she is pregnant to her ex-boyfriend, and has to go back to her parents who still think she is having a good life back in California. The fact that she has no money and no way of getting funds for her child is something that does not cross her parent’s mind at all.
In this film, Mitsuko is the sort of woman who lives with her head in the clouds, everything to her has a cloud with a silver lining and no matter how bad things can get for a person, somehow things will just work out right in the end. She knows she is in a very dire predicament being on her own with a new born to look after, but when she has time to mull her situation over, she knows there is someone she can go to when in trouble who will make sure she is looked after. It is interesting to notice that throughout the story it is her who has helped everyone else with their problems, and now she needs help later on. When she goes back to Granny, the woman who she knew from before, she also meets the one who has had a fancy for her since she was young, Yoichi.
Despite its similarity to French film Amelie, Mitsuko and the rest of the movie’s characters are oddly quirky, fun and at times nonchalant. The film is slow moving, but endearing as it shows what happens when a woman goes through her life with no aims and aspirations, and no way of knowing what she wants to do with her life. Granny has her own history too, she had a husband who fought and died in the war. It makes it more difficult that Mitsuko’s former boyfriend was an American GI, and, one can imagine that if she had stayed with him and even brought him back, he might not have got on with her parents.
The comedy is broad, yet it’s quintessentially Japanese in its strangeness. Viewers will like that even though Mitsuko was in a bad situation, she was always ready to help others, and once she has come back to the old place she was used to many years ago, she finds out how unhappy the tenants are with their lives and tries to mischievously inject some element of humour back in.
Naka Riisa plays the dreaming and drifting Mitsuko who thinks everything will be alright if given enough time, and time is of the essence with this movie. It starts out with her listening to a man talk about his life. He worked in Insurance, but he was laid off due to company restructuring. He wears his suit all the time because he has not told his wife the situation. He just puts on his suit, leaves the house so she still thinks he is working, and kills time wandering around the local park. His story is a sad one, but not one that can’t be dealt with.
The story tells of her coming back to Japan, and the effects her pregnancy is having on her. She is on her ninth month, and it’s a breach baby, so the complications will have to be sorted out. It also shows the prejudice against unwed mothers too. The movie acts as a social commentary with Mitsuko trying to get her neighbour to talk to her even though she doesn’t want to know her. She lives alone, and stays alone as no one wants to know her. Despite her trouble in getting on with others, she finds a friend, albeit briefly with the man from the beginning of the film. She tells him of her philosophy of the clouds and “if the wind isn’t blowing your way, then take a nap.”
As the title suggests, Mitsuko delivers, but it’s not all about her baby; it is how she has always made sure she can sort out other people’s problems – now it’s time for others to help her with hers. Mitsuko is one of life’s drifters. She doesn’t care what others think of her, as long as they treat her right. She does not despair at her situation as in her mind she knows something good will happen to her sooner or later. At certain moments the story goes back 15 years to where Mitsuko was younger and her mother and father first ran away from their original home town to another, and this is where viewers first meet Granny. The town is different from what they are used to, the people are boisterous, and no one ever thinks about barging into another person’s house. This is also when Mitsuko sees her childhood friend Yoichi again working at a restaurant. It was he who fell head over heels in love with her, even though they had a very good friendship to start with.
Mitsuko Delivers is an enjoyable film, and endearing to watch.
Label: Third Window Films
Release date: 9th July 2012
Running time: 109 mins
Director: Yuya Ishii
Stars: Naka Riisa, Nakamura Aoi, Ishibashi Ryo
Sandie has a keen interest in Anime, Manga and all things Japanese. Her interests other than reviewing are Japanese Language, dress and culture, liking Harajuku Girls, Gothic Lolita, folding some neat Origami, drawing her own Manga characters, writing her own Manga stories and everything in between.
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