The Miracles of the Namiya General Store (ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟 | 解忧杂货店) Movie Review | by tiffanyyong.com
Recommended Audience: Fans of Ryosuke Yamada, Toshiyuki Nishida, Nijiro Murakami, Kanichiro, Rico Narumi, Mugi Kadowaki, Kento Hayashi, Masato Hagiwara, Machiko Ono, Ryuichi Hiroki and Japanese movie fans
The Miracles of the Namiya General Store (ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟 | 解忧杂货店) Movie Synopsis
Three delinquents run into an old house to hide from the wrongdoing they committed in the middle of the night. The house was once a general good store long ago where people could leave letters in the mailbox to seek advice for anything that were troubling them. Although the store was supposed to have been shut down, the entrance of these delinquents mysteriously triggers the mailbox to connect the past and the present – the letters from the past begins slipping through the mail slot. Are these letters from the past, crossing time to reach them? Although the three are bewildered by what is transpiring, they write responses to the letters, standing in for Yuji Namiya, the owner of the store at the time when the letters were written. The secret of the general store gradually comes to light, as well as a connection to a certain orphanage. The three individuals, who have never seriously considered anyone else’s problems their whole lives, find themselves connected to these strangers. Will this general store, which has helped so many troubled people decide their path, cause a miracle one last time?
The Miracles of the Namiya General Store (ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟 | 解忧杂货店) Viewer Rating: 4.25/5 ****
The Miracles of the Namiya General Store (ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟 | 解忧杂货店) Movie Review:
Peps Goh: From the writer of ‘Suspect X’, whom i had thought must have a brillant mind, with this film, proves that he is also really emotionally intelligent. The Miracles of the Namiya General Store is a poignant piece, a collection of several touching stories woven smoothly together via the miracle of the letter slot. I hadn’t expected too much of it initially having entered the theatre with only a glance of the synopsis.
Peps Goh: What i had thought might have been another half baked reiteration of ‘The Lake House’, turned out to be a contemplative narrative touched with hope and promise that better days will come. It had somehow vaguely reminded me of the 2005 Korean hit, ‘Saedeu Mubi’ (새드무비). And while “The Miracles of the Namiya General Store” failed to make me weep my face full of snot, it did instead gently left a tear in the corner of my eye and a box of hope in my chest.
Peps Goh: The cinematic style the director/dop had chosen is a double edged sword. The slow and barely-moving almost static shots that held long to slow notes was a tasteful complementation to the plot.
Although to some it may be perceived as boring and in our modern society of deficit attention span, it may lose some audiences in the first 20 minutes. (Confession: I was nodding off from the hypnotic quiet voice) Personally, i loved it. I thought it gave the actors the opportunity to immerse into the scene with minimal distraction, and the blocking of their performance on screen drew our viewing eyes around the composition masterfully. And as a result also made it easier for me to empathise with them, following their every beat and emotions flicker across their performance.
Tiffany Yong: Peps’ right about the immersive acting and story-telling. While I am guilty of dozing off in the cinema, I had no problems understanding the character motivations and even be touched by the individual characters in each of the 5 stories. Of course, to nitpick, the three delinquents played by Ryosuke Yamada as Atsuya, Nijiro Murakami as Shota Kobayashi and Kanichiro as Kohei had some moments when I thought that their reaction is a tad too over the top, but Ryosuke Yamada redeemed himself at the end with his multi-layered performance, showcasing a multitude of conflicting emotions within a single take.
Peps Goh: They had also very admirably gone for an extremely minimalistic sound design. Its a tough thing to do. Most films these days opt to use obvious musical sound cues to invoke audience emotions. (Eg. Here’s a blaring note, “BWWHHAA” feel scared. Now here’s a funky jazz, you may giggle here. Classical piano now, please cry here.)
And without the aid of that. They had conveyed the complex play of emotions across the writing to the screen. That, is some solid film-making.
Tiffany Yong: Honestly, I was surprised how the words from Yuji Namiya (Toshiyuki Nishida) hit me, especially when he said that he wish to know how the advice he had provided helped the advice-seekers. The satisfaction and happiness he get when he received the letters from future reminded me why I continued blogging despite it not being a lucrative ‘work’. It was the notion that whatever I’ve written, had helped the silent and unknown readers out in the world wide web, one way or another. I hope to be a Namiya for whoever’s out there seeking for some sort of advice, and hopefully, they will pay it forward.
This is truly a introspective film that people in our times needs, it is a breathe of fresh air amidst the violence, action and drama that we all need.
Do You Know?
The 2012 Japanese novel written by Keigo Higashino won the 7th Chūōkōron Prize. It has had sales of more than 1.6 million copies in China. The best-selling author has penned such sensations as the thrillers “The Devotion of Suspect X” and “Journey Under the Midnight Sun.
Behind The Scenes and Interviews
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The Miracles of the Namiya General Store (ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟 | 解忧杂货店) is out in cinemas on 5 October 2017.
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*Disclosure: Invitation from Clover Films. No monetary compensation was received for the movie review.