9 February 2016 | rch427
Unbelievably irritating and corny tear-jerker
If you've read the title to this film, you already know everything you need to about it. It has apples. It may have a miracle. The miracle may involve the apples. From that, you'll probably be able to extrapolate that -- like 99% of the other Japanese G-rated dramas, it will be the story of a hapless dreamer with a heart of gold who must overcome every adversity to be able to prove his worth to those around him and to save at least one family member from an illness. There will be tears. There will be innocent children Who Must Be Helped. There will be a beautiful and virtuous woman who will stand by her man. There will be townfolk who don't understand. This sort of film was made by the hundreds in Hollywood in the 1930s through '50s, which makes "Miracle Apples" all the odder, given it being made in 2013.
Yes, I realize that it's (loosely) based upon a true story. But does it have to recycle every hackneyed plot device typical to such movies? Does it have to telegraph every turn of the plot? The protagonist is so earnestly, steadfastly stupid that I found myself enjoying his failure after failure, indignity after indignity. This is partly because star Sadao Abe can be effective in eccentric roles, such as "Ichi the Unicorn" in "Shimotsuma Monogatari" (AKA "Kamikaze Girls"), but he is simply not a believable dramatic actor. His modes are binary; either shouting and nearly wetting himself with enthusiasm or morose and self-flagellating; either way, he's always turned up to eleven.
I give the film three stars for the following: a few good supporting cast members -- particularly Tsutomu Yamazaki as the father-in-law, some fantastic scenery of rural Japan, and a good overall message about organic farming -- but not about a man subjecting his family to a decade of needless poverty, given that organic farming practices were already in use in Europe and America from which he could've learned much, had he bothered to research that.