FILM: Review: White On Rice

Written by Jordan Petersen on . Posted in Film

Hiroshi Watanabe

Hiroshi Watanabe

As a film student, I watch more movies than your average human. That said, seeing a truly independent film is always a treat, even if it turns out to not be very good.

Thankfully, White on Rice was good. Double treat.

Dave Boyle (NOT to be confused with Danny Boyle) wrote and directed this little gem, and is also personally distributing it, which is extremely tough to do. I got to chat with him after watching it at Provo Towne Centre on Saturday, and he explained that he’s releasing it independently for two reasons: a) the economy sucks, and b) the film is a tough sell. It’s about a 40-year-old divorced Japanese man (Hiroshi Watanabe) who speaks broken English and lives with his sister’s family as her 10-year-old son’s roommate (they share a bunkbed). To make matters even more uncomfortable, he finds himself obsessed with a twentysomething college graduate in particular, and getting remarried in general.

This is a very funny movie. The plot and characters are somewhat esoteric, but I think the film succeeds pretty well at being broadly resonant. Sure, you may not be Japanese-American or, for that matter, at all Asian, but you’ll still be edified by the strong themes of filial love and dangerous immaturity. The script is clever and engaging, the acting is extremely good and, overall, the film escapes the frustrating deficiencies in sound, style and editing of most low-budget indies.

Go see this film. It should be in town for another week and it would be a shame to miss it. Lucky for Boyle, it’s gotten rave reviews from critics in San Francisco and L.A. but, for heaven’s sake, Utah had better support this guy too. It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to see a truly independent film that’s so good.

Jordan Petersen is a film correspondent for Rhombus. He is not at all Asian.

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