Thu, Jun 22, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Movie Review: Mom Thinks I’m Crazy to Marry a Japanese Guy

Forget the cross-cultural emphasis and tyrannical mother, it’s the awkward Internet romance between two ordinary people that drives this story

By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

Jian Man-shu and Nakano Yuta are the lead couple in Mom Thinks I’m Crazy to Marry a Japanese Guy.

Photo courtesy of atmovies.com

With the title, Mom Thinks I’m Crazy To Marry A Japanese Guy, it’s easy to write off this film as just another over-the-top, cutesy Taiwanese sap fest with a cross-cultural romantic twist. Those elements are all present, and the scenes are way too magical, but what makes the film work is that the main storyline between the two leads is very much rooted in reality, with believable characters, interactions and dialogue that will strike a chord with anyone who has attempted either long-distance or Internet dating.

It’s a true story after all, first made public through a Facebook fan page of the same name detailing the love story between Ihan (Jian Man-shu, 簡嫚書) and Mogi (Nakano Yuta), who met by chance through Facebook. The tale was later made into a book, upon which the movie is based.

Director Yachida Akihisa makes the wise decision in limiting the over-the-top shenanigans to the minor characters. Actually, it almost appears that outside of the leading couple and their friends, everyone is crazy, from Ihan’s loud-mouthed mother who is constantly bickering with her mahjong buddies to the Japanese dude who randomly shoots a rubber band gun at Mogi in a bar before offering him love advice. They are probably supposed to provide comic relief, but these types of characters are, by now, just tired stereotypes of Taiwanese cinema.

Interestingly, both concepts featured in the movie title (the idea of marrying a Japanese and the tyrant mother who opposes the decision) don’t make too much of a difference in the film. The cultural barriers part is minimized by the fact that Ihan is proficient in Mogi’s language as a Japanese major in college and a self-professed lover of all things Japanese. One could see it as a missed opportunity to explore cultural differences between Taiwan and Japan — but hey, you have to stick with the script if it’s a true story. And even though Ihan’s mother vehemently opposes their relationship, Ihan is such an optimistic and headstrong character that there’s no stopping her. As a result, the expected “conflict” is virtually nonexistent.

Film Notes

Mom Thinks I’m Crazy To Marry A Japanese Guy 雖然媽媽說我不可以嫁去日本

DIRECTED BY:Yachida Akihisa

STARRING:Jian Man-shu (簡嫚書) as Ihan, Nakano Yuta as Mogi, Lotus Wang (王彩樺) as the mother

RUNNING TIME:94 MINUTES

LANGUAGE:Mandarin, Japanese and Taiwanese with Chinese and English subtitles

TAIWAN RELEASE:In theaters


Instead, the conflict revolves around misunderstandings through social media posts and online chatting, which the film presents in a very nuanced and realistic way, as the two characters continue to guess the underlying meanings behind what they see on screen because they can’t see each other in person.

Much of the plot is cleverly (albeit too cutely) presented through Facebook photos, videos, comments and messaging. The director even shows Mogi pausing in the middle of typing a sentence, wondering if he should finish his thought. There’s even a scene where they’re still communicating via Facebook while sitting next to each other. Don’t lie, you’ve probably done that too.

The awkward world of online communication is made more apparent especially because Mogi is no prince charming. He’s quiet and reserved, the type of guy who requires a bit of initiative from the woman if anything is to happen. While Ihan is the more outgoing one, she’s also unsure of their budding virtual attraction and what it all means. This creates a lot of tension that carries over to when they meet in person, such as their extremely clumsy first farewell. Afterward, they are shown wondering if they should have said more. It’s these moments that the audience can relate to, and this film would have been a complete dud if it depicted some grandiose, theatrical romance.

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