3.5 stars (out of 4)
Released 2013 (Japan) – Opening night film of 2014 Toronto Japanese Film Festival
A talented young woman named Haru is recruited to marry into a renowned kitchen samurai family so she can help teach the “incompetent” heir to improve his skills. Not only a historical tale of cooking and developing love, there’s also a fair amount of drama, sword-fighting action, political unrest, and even some light-hearted humour at times.
It’s almost worth the price of admission just to see the gorgeous Japanese scenery and beautiful costumes. And of course there’s the food too. It would be wise to eat something before going to see this.
The story developments flow naturally in a well-paced manner. The movie elicits feelings in a way that touches you, rather than hitting you over the head.
Likewise, while the score is noticeably beautiful on several occasions, it fittingly complements the action without being overly dramatic.
If I were to complain about one thing, it’s that the theme song at the end sounds too weird. The female vocal is strangely shrill and just doesn’t sound good. But that’s really a teeny tiny blemish on an otherwise remarkably enjoyable film.