Comedy, Drama, family, Films, Japan, LBGTQ+, Recommended posts, Reviews

My Father, The Bride

A charming family drama that will leave a smile on your face…

The filmmaker Momoko Fukuda made her way to the consciousness of many cinema lovers in 2016 with her short film Dad’s Wedding. It explored the changing face of modern families in a humorous yet warm manner through the eyes of Seiko, a young woman returning home for her father’s second wedding. In My Father, The Bride Fukuda has returned to examine the same story, this time in feature-length.

The story follows Tohka (Honoka Matsumoto), a busy young woman with a marriage on the rocks, returning home to an isolated island for a second memorial service of her dead mother. While she receives a warm welcome from family and neighbours alike, not everything is like it used to be in this small island community. Not only has Tohka’s father Seiji (Itsuji Itao) taken to wearing his dead wives’ clothes, he also announces his plans to marry his friend Kazuo (Kenta Hamano): a local man with a teenage daughter of his own. To add Tohka’s shock and amazement Kazuo and his daughter have already moved into her childhood home and no one else in the family seems to bat an eyelid about this unconventional arrangement. Instead, her laidback brother and his heavily pregnant, always upbeat wife embrace the new family members like they’ve always been part of the family circle and the local community seem to have no problem with Seiji’s new unique clothing choices. Interestingly Tohka, the one who escaped the small community in a search for a life in the big city, is the one who can’t quite reconcile with her father’s new lifestyle.

The premise is nothing overly new or ground-breaking as such. Similar themes have been explored in cinematic and TV format for years and My Father, The Bride doesn’t really offer any great surprises. It follows the well-established plot development of initial shock, resistance, inevitable self-discovery and finally learning to understand, accept and embrace the change. Even so, the film does not feel tired or trite. The power of the story comes from its characters, their interactions and the loving atmosphere they manage to create. There is genuine chemistry between this family, and one must applaud the absolutely stellar performances the main cast respectively give. There is something very real about this family. The playful banter around the dinner table is surely a familiar scene for most, and on a personal note, I will fully admit that these scenes made me miss my own family and the particular type of repartee we have over our family meals.

And that, of course, is what is in the heart of the story; family. With a title like My Father, The Bride, one might perhaps expect a film more focused on LGBT issues, and while they are certainly an aspect of the story, they are not it’s centre. The fact that Seiji has decided to start wearing women’s clothing is almost incidental; family, acceptance, being true to yourself and finding a way to happiness are the forces that drive this story. The original title Oishii Kazoku or Delicious Family, describes this tale much better. Not only because of its family-centric themes, but many of the scenes indeed take place over a meal of some description and the cinematography focuses on the mouth-watering dishes as much as it does the people eating them. And it’s not just for decoration; food also forms an essential part of the story. It’s how Seiji and Kazuo first made their connection and how Kazuo and his daughter became part of the family. Bonding over a hatred of a particular dish and preparing it together also plays a seminal part in reconnection Tohka and her father. Food also connects Tohka to an old friend of the family and perhaps, a future love interest. It’s almost as much of a driving force for the story as the family is, and I can easily see this film making its way to future listings of great food films.

My Father, The Bride may not be a laugh out loud kind of comedy, but rather offers gentle kind of humour that springs from little everyday moments. It sucks you in with its joyful atmosphere, whimsical soundtrack and beautifully vibrant cinematography and leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s a fantastic feel-good drama and a great choice if you happen to need cheering up.

My Father, The Bride screens as part of Camera Japan Festival 2019 in Rotterdam (25-29 September) and Amsterdam (3-6 October).

About the author

Niina DohertyNiina Doherty Niina Doherty
Originally from Finland but currently based in the UK, Niina is a lifelong film fanatic and a great lover of all things horror. Absolutely adores 80’s Hong Kong horror, as well as traditional Japanese ghost stories and thinks everyone should see Tōkaidō Yotsuya Kaidan (1959). Alongside writing, Niina mostly spends her time painting, drawing and introducing her little boy to various cinematic masterpieces. Besides easternKicks Niina also writes for Horrornews.net and Diaboliquemagazine.com.
Read all posts by Niina Doherty

On this day One year ago

Kamikaze Guy

Sonny Chiba and Kenji Fukasaku’s historic 1st film together provides mostly….lighthearted wholesome fun?!? (more…) Read on

On this day Five years ago

30th Tokyo International Film Festival Full Programme Has...

The film festival will be held from October 25 to November 3… (more…) Read on

On this day 12 years ago

House

Dazzlingly dotty and out-of-this-world – welcome to Obayashi’s (often hilarious) fantasy horror, soundtracked by Godiego (best known for Monkey!)... (more…) Read on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.