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“Cooks up a great premise” — Mark Schilling, JAPAN TIMES
Director: Mai Tominaga Screenplay: Hiroko Takai, from Ito Ogawa Cast: Kou Shibasaki, Kimiko Yo, Tomokazu Miura, Hikari Mitsushima Producers: Tomoyo Nihira, Naoko Watanabe, Yuko Kameda, Satoshi Akagi Print Source: Toho
Everything is going wrong for Rinco. She was finally going to start a new life away from her tyrannical mother and fulfill her dream of opening a restaurant with her boyfriend. But before you can say “sushi,” all of her hopes go down in flames. Her boyfriend leaves her without any notice, taking all of his stuff with him. Flat broke, poor Rinco has no choice but to return to living with her bitter, alcoholic mother who would rather spend time with her pet pig than her own daughter. Making things worse, her sorrow is so great as to make her lose her voice. All she has left are the recipes handed down by her grandmother, a true gourmet chef who left her all her secrets. With nothing else to lose, might as well forge ahead. Helped by a childhood friend, she opens a small restaurant located, for lack of better options, deep in the woods. Being the sole employee, Rinco can only receive one customer at a time. Her small-scale enterprise might seem ripe for eminent failure, if it weren’t for her dishes possessing unexpected magical qualities. In fact, whoever tastes her food sees their wish come true. Rinco’s restaurant slowly experiences genuine success, although one that risks being short-lived. Her competitors look down upon the newcomer and Rinco’s mother will stop at nothing to poison her daughter’s life, even ruining her projects. But when facing adversity, a smile is the most powerful weapon.
Back in 2007, the audience at Fantasia was stunned by the discovery of an indescribable cinematic oddity, the labyrinthine WOOL 100%. Introducing the public to the talent of Mai Tominaga, a new Japanese director to look out for, the film won the Prix Séquences award. After a brief stint working on television projects, Tominaga has finally returned to the big screen with RINCO’S RESTAURANT, a more classically structured picture than its predecessor but still infused with the same imaginative direction, reminiscent in ways of MEMORIES OF MATSUKO. Rinco’s misadventures are told through musical sequences, and Tominaga uses animation to evoke her characters’ state of mind. Incarnating the title role with conviction, Kou Shibasaki solidifies her place as one of her generation’s leading actresses, even displaying her culinary tendencies as she personally prepares the succulent dishes seen throughout the film. Mix a cup of insanity and a healthy helping of talent, and you’ll get this delicious picture!
—Simon Laperrière (translated by Guillaume Desbiens)