9 January 2013 | cremea
An offbeat & agreeable enough Japanese comedic drama.
Mitsuko Delivers is a story about the life of a young & single woman who's very pregnant. It's a slowly unfolding, and slightly quirky, Japanese tale that stars Naka Riisa in the lead role as the titular title character who's about to deliver her baby.
Mitsuko is also broke with nowhere to live, and she doesn't have much to rely or fall back on, other than her indomitable spirit. Despite her current predicament, she's determined to have her child and live her life on her own terms. She declines to tell her parents she's pregnant, or that she's even living in Tokyo, instead of half way across the world where they think she resides. Mitsuko's also a bit of an ass and a tad abrasive, but not so much so that's she really unlikable. She also has a habit of barging in wherever she sees fit, and seems perfectly willing to base her life decisions on "which way the wind & clouds are blowing at any given moment". Her actions throughout would not be recommend to anyone in real life, but this is a movie, and, it all seems to work for her well enough.
Fortunately, Mitsuko also has a strange magnetic quality to her, and she's basically a kind & decent person who wants to help those around her. With nowhere to go, she abruptly shows up at the old housing projects where she once briefly lived as a child. While there, she reunites with the elderly landlord of the aging tenement, along with a few of the other people she previously knew there that made an impression on her long ago.
Along the way, she reconnects with everyone from the past, and begins new connections with those new people who filter in along the way. Ultimately, she helps all these parties overcome their various issues over time, while she continues to go about her life. Mitsuko never asks for any help from any of these people, but they all eventually come to realize they should be helping this woman asap in exchange for all she has done for them. And, if the stars (and winds & clouds) can align, perhaps she can find some peace (and perhaps some love).
This a typical slow paced Japanese slice of life movie. Not a whole lot "happens" in these types of films, and, rarely are they completely wrapped up with "a big bow on top" at their conclusion. So, if you're expecting a lot of "big" moments to occur throughout, or some clear finality to every story arc, you're watching the wrong movie. These are unhurried character studies where you simply observe a period or moment in the life of an individual & the persons around them. However, these types of movies often have at least one or more significantly wacky events or meaningful scenes that jump out at you once you're no longer expecting as much.
This movie is very similar in feel and structure to Sawako Decides (also helmed by the same writer/director a year earlier). If you liked that film, you'll probably enjoy this one too. However, I feel Sawako Decides is the better & more approachable of the two, if you only have time to watch one of them.
Naka Riisa is rock solid throughout as the main protagonist. Many of the side characters/roles are suitably acceptable as well. The old crippled tenement landlord almost steals the show with her performance though. Overall, all primary actors/actresses got the job done well enough.
I did like this movie for the most part, and the ending was particularly enjoyable (to me anyway). The inevitable madcap buildup to the climax of many of the plot lines is amusing in many ways. And, with a child on the way, and various stories still somewhat in a state of flux, it does ultimately leave you with its intended impression that life will & does inevitably go on (no matter what).
Some people will like this method of film making, and some won't; the pacing and style of these types of films are not going to be to everyone's tastes. Nevertheless, I feel Mitsuko Delivers is decently recommended (if you're agreeable to this approach to storytelling). It does require patience though.
Bottom Line: 6.5-ish out of 10 stars or so. I'll give it a 7.