I have heard it said that Western palates cannot appreciate the subtlety of Japanese cuisine. I don’t think I appreciated the subtlety of this slow-moving Japanese movie.
This film is based on a personal essay by the chef of an Antarctic research station and it shows: there isn’t a narrative so much as the passage of time, and characters besides the chef don’t develop, they just have events. This would be great as a documentary and fine as a biopic, but it just feels like a lazy adaptation.
The food porn was decent, but I would have liked more details about the difficulty of cooking in that environment, not just the crew’s emotional reactions. In particular, I was hoping for scientific ingenuity in making the most of their resources. Instead all we got was off-hand serendipity about kansui.
Despite not living up to my expectations, the title character was very cute and this can be considered a sophisticated feel-good movie. It gave some interesting insight into the plight of the team’s situation and the nature of scientists. There were a few stand-out scenes that captured emotional nuance. Most of my friends had a more positive reaction than me.
The film felt quite long to me at 125 minutes – definitely don’t arrive hungry! Perhaps even a creative edit could make this movie great.