I went on Saturday to the opening day of the new movie, “My Darling is a Foreigner“, a mostly Japanese-language film of the best-selling manga comic series by Saori Ogura, featuring Ms Ogura and her husband Tony Laszlo, and their life together as an international couple in Japan. I’ve read most of the books (there’s even an English translation out now) so I went with high hopes.
The co-stars are Mao Inoue and Jonathan Sherr, who seem to have been cast on the basis of one having a beard and the other one for looking cute. The movie centres on their road from their first meeting to the proposal, but during the 100 minutes of the film precious little of note actually happens. The real Ms Ogura (and her character in the book) is a strong-willed woman not shy to express her emotions physically, but dear Mao chan can hardly say boo to a goose; indeed the one time she gets past the pouting stage the movie cuts to an animated scene from the book of Ms Ogura drop-kicking Mr Laszlo.
There was a scene in a conveyer-belt sushi restaurant with Mr Sherr and three other foreigners discussing Japanese women that raised a smile, as one was a self-confessed Charisma Man, although sadly he didn’t use that phrase. However, it was only half a smile, as the production values and acting in that scene were on a par with the best that an NHK English educational program can muster. About my only other smile was a scene in a movie theatre that baffled my wife, and probably most of the other Japanese watching – Mr Sherr laughed, then about two seconds later all the Japanese around him laughed. For the real audience, the biggest belly-laugh came when Mr Sherr did a Bobby Ologun act – even after establishing very early in the story that he is pretty much fluent in Japanese, going as far as studying classical grammar – when talking to his to-be (well, not-to-be as it turned out) father-in-law he wanted to use the very basic phrase “kibun tenkan” but instead hammed around “kibun tenken … kanten … tenkan”.
The last straw for me came in the build-up to the final scene – after finding the only native Brooklynite taxi driver in all New York, Saori found Tony wistfully watching a wedding coming out of a church they hug and, just to make sure you don’t miss the hint, the bride tosses the bouquet and the slow-motion following of the flight cuts back to the two of them hugging.
To top it all, along with noticing a rather prominent and recognisable bottle of fabric softener in a few scenes, we all got treated to a list of sponsors a mile long in the credits, which made me feel I should have been paid to watch.
Even my wife disliked the whole movie. Save your money and buy one or two of the books instead.