At long last there’s a film to rival Babette’s Feast in the foodie stakes. The film in its native Japan is called Shokudo Katatsumurai, but the version with English sub-titles is known as ‘Rinco’s Restaurant’. Rinco lives in a small rural village with her louche mother and a pig. The pig, Hermes, is the mother’s pet, is kept indoors, hogs the sofa and even shares the mother’s bed. Rinco sets up a restaurant in a glorified shed in the garden. There is only one table in the restaurant and no menu and the food which Rinco cooks has the magical ability to transform people’s lives. In one scene, a widow dressed in black and borne down with misery, is served course after course during which she is gradually transported out of her misery. The scene lasts about ten minutes without any dialogue, during which all you see is Rinco preparing each course and the widow eating them. It is utterly charming.
I’m indebted to Mark Schilling of the Japan Times for the information that there’s a thriving sub-culture in Japan of films about women in crisis who find redemption through food. They include Seagull Restaurant, Flavour of Happiness and Nonchan Noriben. After enjoying Rinco’s restaurant to much, I can’t wait to get hold of them.