Nonchan Noriben / のんちゃんのり弁 / Noriben – The Recipe for Fortune
Nonchan Noriben opens with Komaki Nagai (Manami Konishi) leaving her terminally unemployed writer of a husband (Yoshinori Okada) with daughter Non-chan (Rio Sasaki) in tow. Returning to her old neighborhood in Sumida-ku she tries to pull her life back together, trying a series of dead-end jobs, meeting a chef-sensei and going into business as a bento-maker. Directed by Akira Okata, it’s a feel-good movie with plenty of downbeat moments that take it out of the realms of cliché. Particularly satisfying are an amazing array of sensitive character actors who are at once archetypal – the world-weary sunaku owner, the fatherly master chef, the old high-school love interest still unrequited after so many years. Okata handles them all with a healthy dose of love and respect. Even the ostensible villain of the story, Komaki’s husband, is a likeable man who just can’t seem to grow up. If only for the scene where Non-chan wails at the coming divorce of her parents – and how they all react – Nonchan Noriben displays an immense humanity and truthfulness about irreconcilable situations.
Originally published in EL Magazine, September 2009