Instant Numa is already the fourth Miki film I see
in a rather short period of time. His latest film bears all of the
regular Miki treats, yet succeeds in delivering another original and
creative story. Miki fans will rejoice at the random oddness, newcomers
can get a good taste of Miki's earlier work before they start
backtracking through his oeuvre.
I quite simply love Satoshi Miki. He must be one of the most stable
directors I've come across so far. Even though each film has its very
own feel, Miki's unique style links them all and lifts them to a very
stable level of loveliness. I can safely sit down for one of his film,
knowing that what follows won't be a disappointment and will leave me
with a rather warm glow inside.
The film revolves around Haname, a somewhat aimless woman who has
considerable trouble finding her place in Japanese society. She has no
luck in romance, no luck at work and has some trouble coping with her
somewhat dreamy mother. Things take a very strange turn when her mother
goes Kappa hunting one day and nearly drowns. Together with her body an
old letterbox is pulled to the surface, uncovering a letter revealing
the identity of Haname's real dad.
If this all sounds a little loose and incoherent, it is. Every 15
minutes seem dedicated to another little storyline, some unrelated,
others key to advancing towards the finale of the film. It's not until
the final 20 minutes that you'll have any idea what the title of the
film is all about, nor have a clue about the key importance of some very
minor details. Coherent storytelling has never been Miki's strong
point, luckily he knows how to make up for that in so many other ways.
Visually Instant Numa is a pleasant film. Miki doesn't have an
overpowering visual style, but through some quirky editing and cool
camera angles he knows to create a very nice feel for Haname's world.
There are a couple of scenes that jump out and deliver more than simply
solid visuals, but they are quite rare and don't create an unfitting
contrast with the rest of the film.
The soundtrack has that same joyous quality, where it knows to deliver
without actually being too much in your face. Looking back all I can say
that Instant Numa had some pleasant tunes, but none of them are
particularly memorable or catchy. Acting is overall strong, with a
superb performance of Aso as Haname and a great supporting cast. The
acting is pretty understated, which goes very well with Miki's usual
The ending is odd, even more so than the rest of the film. The titular
revelation is hilarious, what follows is pretty interesting too. It
reminded me a lot of the Taste Of Tea ending, sporting a comparable
setup and feeling like a true climax. I won't spoil too much, but even
though it might be somewhat unrelated to everything that came before,
it's definitely worth sitting through the movie.
The first half hour of the film feels just a little less strong than
usually the case. Miki's humor is a little simpler and direct, featuring
some bad breath jokes I don't really need to see again. From then on,
he falls back to his regular weirdness and dry, absurd comedy. It all
leads up to a rewarding ending, leaving you with a fuzzy feeling and a
sense of chill bliss. Recommended, like all of his other films I've seen
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