Tampopo. This movie was utterly bizarre, but brilliant and wonderfully Japanese at the same time.
The main storyline revolves around two protagonists, one of which is the very young Ken Watanabe, who help a widow improve her dilapidated noodle shop and learn to make the perfect bowl of Ramen. The lady inherited the store from her deceased husband, and struggles to make ends meet whilst taking care of her son. She is a delightful Japanese lady, but absolutely clueless about making a proper bowl of ramen. Nonetheless, she’s keen to improve and implores them to help improve her craft. Thus their journey for ramen perfection begins!
In between, the story sort of drifts between vignettes of different people, but focuses mainly on the obsession of food. And if there’s anyone who holds a particular reverence towards food, it would be the Japanese.
Some scenes are just ridiculously hilarious. For instance, the group of ladies learning proper Western dining etiquette, but end up emulating the neighbouring white guy who’s slurping down his spaghetti, much to the chagrin of the lady instructor. But other scenes revolve around a couple in food scenes rife with sexual energy, between exchanging the an egg yolk between the mouths, and lasciviously eating an oyster from a girl’s hand. I thought that was just plain wrong. But what the hey, it’s Japan!
The movie is a mix of satire as well as some real life elements. Some moments you’ll burst out laughing, and some moments you’ll cringe in awkwardness. But in the end there’s a sense of satisfaction when the lady finally masters ramen and her store thrives, with the protagonists walking off into the sunset.
Totally heartwarming, but now I’m hankering for a proper bowl of Chashu ramen. Better start planning my next trip to Japan!
Till the next time, I bid you all adieu!