Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Ramen Girl (2008)

In honor of the late Brittany Murphy, or more specifically because I only just heard of it yesterday and was entranced by the theme, I watched small time production "The Ramen Girl" and couldn't help but be entranced. I'm sure you're all familiar with The Ramen Ronin, the legendary tale of a ronin in search of the perfect ramen. At the core of this film is a similar story of the hidden depths within the nourishing broth and noodles.

Murphy plays Abby, an American woman who followed her boyfriend to Tokyo but is left distraught when he dumps her. Trapped in a job she hates in a country she knows little about where they speak a language she doesn't understand, she's seduced by the homely feel of the nearby noodle bar and finds salvation in a bowl of traditional ramen. At that moment, everything crystallizes for the up till now wishy-washy Abby as she realizes her destiny in life - to learn how to cook the perfect bowl of ramen. Offering herself as a student to the grouchy, tyrannical owner of the shop, Maezuki, she embarks on a journey of the soul that will change her life forever...

Conclusion after the jump.

Really this movie is extremely silly and shouldn't work. Abby is often, as Maezuki infers, a selfish crybaby while Maezuki himself is a hardcore douchenozzle. Events happen almost at random, a hamtastic villain is introduced and ramen is discussed less as food and more as a form of spirituality... but then again, that's what's so great about this movie. The ramen acts as a conduit for Abby to pour her soul into as she pieces together the fractured parts of her life and she's just darn huggable too. This film seems to get compared to people who know only the basics about it to Lost in Translation, but I'll let director Robert Allan Ackerman speak for himself on this subject:

"I would rather not be compared to "Lost in Translation." I thought that the depiction of the Japanese characters was very stereotypical and kind of racist. I also thought that it had nothing to do with Japan; they could have been on the moon, and the only reason to have Japanese people was to make fun of them."

As long as you don't take this movie too seriously, it's awesome. I mean how many films do you know with a Grand Master of Ramen in it? I'm also partial to movies with a certain outcome as this one does as they're so rare and subversive. I'd happily watch it again for fun and I'd certainly recommend it.

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