The Japanese Wife delves deep into the subject: How far will you go for love? To kick-start, the film is an unusual journey of love, which may ask you to ponder over the question: Does this kind of love really exist? But twenty minutes into the movie and you will be convinced, yes it can happen anytime, anywhere and with anyone. As the old saying goes, love knows no boundaries!
Snehamoy (Rahul Bose), a schoolteacher in the Sunderbans, and Miyage (Chigusa Takaku), a young girl in Japan are pen friends and religiously write letters to each other. They fall in love over letters, and even get married through letters! They have been married for 15 years … though have never met.
But this long-distance relationship comes under a cloud when a young widow, Sandhya (Raima Sen), comes to stay with Snehamoy and Mashi (Moushumi Chatterjee) along with her eight-year-old son, Fatik (Rudranil Ghosh). Will Snehamoy bend towards the affection and kindness showered by Sandhya? Will his devotion towards Miyage dwindle?
Director Aparna Sen presents a beautifully woven love poem, which excels in all the departments – from story to location to acting, all the characters blend with each other. The anecdotes are narrated in a unique way. Set against the Matla river backdrop, the film is beautifully photographed and very dexterously changes course from India to Japan and vice versa. Where there are hilarious moments, there are other moments worth applauding and heart-touching too.
Kudos to the entire cast and crew for putting together a story so fabulously told through letters. Rahul Bose as the lover-cum-loner-cum-teacher-cum-father plays his part with élan; he moulds into his character perfectly. Moushumi Chatterjee as the doting mashi (aunt) is brilliant – she is sardonic and uproarious at the same time. Chigusa Takaku is delicate as is required in the film. Raima Sen flawlessly portrays her role and so does Rudranil Ghosh.
Music is nil. Only the background score uplifts and sways the movie from one scene to the other. The mix bag of dialogue (read: Bengali and English) adds punch to the script. Cinematography is good; the interiors of riverside West Bengal have been picturesquely captured in the reel. Also, enhancing the frame of reality are the costumes and look of each thespian.
Aparna Sen, after Mr. And Mrs. Iyer, gives yet another far-out film which for its time span (105 minutes approx.) is a cineaste’s delight.