Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Darling is a Foreigner - Darin wa Gaikokujin 2010

Director - Kazuaki Ue


A puddle shallow, glutinous look at the relationship between a Japanese woman and her American boyfriend.

A series of moderately amusing Japanese manga has been turned into a whopping great turkey of a romantic comedy. The comics featured in bite-size form on Train TV in Tokyo, a welcome distraction from the commute at a length just short enough to maintain attention. They were fairly charming, contrasting the rather tame subject matter with the hugely exaggerated style of Japanese comics. Their focus was on the cute little misunderstandings in a relationship between a young Japanese woman and her darling foreigner.

Saori is a manga artist, Mao Inoue of Japanese soap fame, who definitely is just a pretty face, and Tony is her American boyfriend, Jonathan Sherr, who acts throughout as if he is on industrial strength horse tranquilizers. The story charts the troubles that face them. Ranging from the lack of acceptance of her father, to Tony's inability to rinse cups after doing the washing up, and hang out laundry. Ironically, there does not seem to be too great a difference in importance attributed to these two. Neither of the characters are as interesting in non-animated form and the story lurches slowly, predictably onwards, with them drifting behind in tow.

There is a section of clips where real couples are interviewed (fast becoming a staple of rom-coms with too few ideas and 90 minutes to fill) on the idiosyncratic things their foreigner boyfriends do. It is pretty tedious stuff, the grinning guys are paraded like entrants at a dog show. Tragically there are only Japanese women and foreign guys, surely they could have sniffed out one Japanese guy to participate? "He puts broccoli in his soba noodles!?!" one girl squeaks in disbelief. Enlightening, it isn't.

There probably is a story to be told on this subject, there has been before see Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, but not here. Dealing solely in superficial stereotypes and cliches, it is dull, boring and utterly lacking in any form of insight. The chemistry between the two is non-existent and the film is littered with emotional signposting; the slow-mo flower toss at a wedding is particularly unimaginative. Maybe the concession needs to be made that perhaps I am not the demographic being targeted here; i.e not a Japanese girl. If you have a sneaking suspicion that you might not be either, avoid.

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