Review: The Ramen Girl

After Brittany Murphy’s passing in late December, I learned about her role in The Ramen Girl, a “culture clash” film released in 2008. I finally found the time to watch it last night, and was pleasantly surprised by its exploration of Japanese tradition and culture. The movie goes beyond the surface appeal of most American films by exploring identity when two worlds collide.

DVD cover of The Ramen Girl. Source: Media 8 Entertainment

The story follows Abby (Brittany Murphy), a 20-something material girl who moves to Tokyo to live with her boyfriend. Not long after she arrives, he confesses that the move was too soon and leaves her to work in Osaka.

Alone and out of work, Abby finds herself bawling in a local ramen-ya (ramen shop). The owner, Maezumi (Toshiyuki Nishida) gives her a bowl of ramen, and the rest is history as Abby vows to become a ramen chef.

 

Tonkostu (Pork-bone) ramen, one of the dishes featured in The Ramen Girl. Source: Wikipedia

The most impressive aspect of the film to me was the celebration of Japanese culture and way of life. From the art of ramen cooking with tamashi (精神, spirit) to the traditional sensei/seito, teacher/student hierarchy, The Ramen Girl is a cultural experience any person with an interest in Japan should see.

At one point, Abby’s crush, Toshi (played by the handsome Sohee Park) bursts out: “Why do Americans think that every other person should act like them?” Abby’s symbolic evolution from self-seeking girl to mature woman relates well to Generation Y’s transition into the adults of the world. While we may find ourselves lost in this phase, acceptance of responsibility and understanding of others’ struggles finally sets Abby free–a beacon of hope for the rest of us.

Liz’s Rating: ★★★★   

Advertisements