Schematic Japanese criss-crosser "Food and the Maiden" examines eating neuroses to produce a slightly dark but ultimately inconsequential comedy of manners.

Schematic Japanese criss-crosser “Food and the Maiden” examines eating neuroses to produce a slightly dark but ultimately inconsequential comedy of manners. Resume for first-time writer-helmer Minoru Kurimura states he worked on Wong Kar Wai’s “2046” in some capacity, and the influence of the Hong Kong helmer is palpable here in the quirkier touches, though this pic lacks his touch of genius. Still, foodie flavor could put the film on further fest menus.

Office worker Mie (Rie Tanaka) copes with her unhappy relationship with shiftless b.f. Takeshi (Kentaro Kishi) by going bulimic with rice crackers. Her co-worker Hisao (Toru Kikuchi), on the other hand, only pretends to eat his lunch every day so his family will have more money for food at home. Both tales skirt tragedy with glib conclusions, but the third strand — about a pretty bar cook (Mayu Sakuma) falling for a customer (Satoshi Kamimura) who can’t bear to eat in front of people — has some gentle charm. HD lensing pretentiously paces around sets and frequently goes in for almost disturbing close-ups of food. Soundtrack features numerous bursts of Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden,” hence the international title.

Food and the Maiden

Japan

Production

A 9miles production. (International sales: 9miles, Tokyo.) Produced by Minoru Kurimura, Isao Kodaka. Directed, written, edited by Minoru Kurimura.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Akihiko Niommatsu; production designer, Hanae Uchida. Reviewed on DVD, Hoveton, U.K., March 6, 2011. (In Berlin Film Festival -- Culinary Cinema.) Running time: 75 MIN.

With

Mayu Sakuma, Rie Tanaka, Takae Okamura, Satoshi Kamimura, Kentaro Kishi, Toru Kikuchi, Shoichiro Masumoto.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more