Review: ‘My Darling Is a Foreigner’

Cross-cultural romance is put under the Nipponese microscope in this quaint romantic comedy.

Cross-cultural romance is put under the Nipponese microscope in the quaint romantic comedy “My Darling Is a Foreigner.” Based on a bestselling autobiographical manga by Saori Oguri, pic outlines the pitfalls and pleasures of a relationship between a Japanese woman and an American man. Set for an April local release, pic will find appreciative distaff fans among readers of the original manga and its travelogue sequels. Internationally, its appeal will be confined to Japan-themed fests.

Wannabe manga artist Saori (Mao Inoue) is besotted with Tony Lazlo (Jonathan Sherr), an English teacher residing in Tokyo. Fully assimilated, Tony speaks fluent Japanese and has an unwavering respect for local customs. Despite Tony’s Japanization, Saori’s father (Jun Kunimura) disapproves of the liaison. Script makes some amusing and accurate observations, but narrative tension flounders due to excessive fidelity to Oguri’s experience. Sherr has little to do but be sweet and understanding; Inoue is more rounded, but can’t transcend the script’s limitations. Occasional use of Oguri-style animation will appeal to the manga’s fans, but merely emphasize the charm that’s mostly missing. Helming and lensing are as flat as Sherr’s character. Tech credits are solid.

My Darling Is a Foreigner

Japan

Production

A Tokyo Broadcasting System, Media Factory, Toho Co., Dentsu, Mainichi Broadcasting System, IMJ Entertainment, PPM, Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting, RKB Mainichi Broadcasting, Nippon Shuppan Hanbai Corp.,Yahoo Japan, Hokkaido Broadcasting Co., Tsutaya, East Japan Marketing and Communication production. (International sales: Tokyo Broadcasting System, Tokyo.) Produced by Osamu Kubota, Tamako Tsujimoto. Executive producer, Kazuya Hamana. Directed by Kazuaki Ue. Screenplay, Satomi Ohshima, based on the manga "Darin wa gaikokujin" by Saori Oguri.

Crew

Camera (color), Hitoshi Kato; editor, Yoshinari Kogure; music, Tokio Noguchi; production designer, Ario Iwasaki, Hidefumi Hanaya. Reviewed at Hong Kong Filmart, March 23, 2010. Original title: Darin wa gaikokujin. Japanese, English dialogue. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Mao Inoue, Jonathan Sherr, Jun Kunimura.

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