Mitsuko Delivers

Mitsuko Delivers

****

Reviewed by: Lindis Kipp

Being young, unmarried, broke and nine months pregnant is something that would get a lot of girls down, but titular character Mitsuko (Riisa Naka) won't let these things impede her quest to be “cool” in Yuya Ishii's new comedy Mitsuko Delivers. Mitsuko's unsuccessful parents still think she is in California, where she fell pregnant, but their daughter has other plans. She leaves her fate up to the wind and a cloud she follows to an old tenement in Tokyo, where she spent some months as a child when one of her parents' ventures went wrong.

She finds most of the flats abandoned and the old landlady bedridden. The only other remaining tenants are restaurant owner Jiro and his nephew Yoichi, who has been in love with Mitsuko since they were children. With little regard for her own health, Mitsuko sets off to improve everybody's lot, whether they want it or not.

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Riisa Naka is great as somewhat obnoxious Mitsuko, who is not averse to bullying people into following her plans. Loud, impolite and generally a nightmare for Japanese parents, Mitsuko makes decisions based on whether or not something is “cool” to do; the use of the word “cool” in the subtitles seems a little off and knowledge of the original phrase probably improves the film. Naka has fantastic facial expressions and impeccable comedic timing. Her interactions with Miyoko Inagawa's old landlady had the entire audience in tears of laughter.

Ryo Ishibashi is fantastic as tongue-tied, love-lorn uncle Jiro, who has given his entire life to look after other people and needs Mitsuko to push him to finally look after himself. Jiro has been silently courting a coffee shop owner for over 15 years and has failed to make a move so far, so Mitsuko takes things into her own hands. Aoi Nakamura's Yoichi is a wonderfully awkward and righteous young man, who cannot quite believe his luck when the love of his life returns. His stoic and quiet demeanour is the perfect contrast to Mitsuko's manic busybody tendencies and the two work well together.

Ishii plays with working class stereotypes and weaves the current economic climate into the story deftly. The humour is on the bizarre side, as is to be expected of Japanese comedy, but it translates well for audiences who like this kind of humour. Ultimately, the film is about doing right by those you are close to, whether it is convenient for you or not, because it will always pay off.

Reviewed on: 27 Feb 2012
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Mitsuko is in her ninth month of pregnancy, but that doesn't stop her taking the lead when all around her are floundering. Yuya Ishii's breathless comic drama has satire, brio and originality to burn.
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Director: Yuya Ishii

Starring: Riisa Naka, Aoi Nakamura, Ryo Ishibashi

Year: 2011

Runtime: 109 minutes

Country: Japan


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