Director: Shinobu Yaguchi
Starring: Naomi Nishida, Go Riju, Noriko Tanaka, Shinobu Tsuruta
Materialistic and lazy Sakiko (Naomi Nishida) has only one real love; money. Content to count and be in possession of cash, she works unfulfilled as a bank teller when she finds herself taken hostage by thieves. Thrown in the trunk of the getaway car, an explosive accident in the wilderness kills the thieves and sends her and a suitcase full of money into an underwater river and cave system. Discovered floating in a nearby river, she makes a full recovery. With the money believed to have gone up in flames, she sets out to recover the lost millions and will let nothing get in the way. As she develops the skills necessary to recover the suitcase, she finds talents she never knew she had when overcoming the many obstacles between her and her love.
One of director Shinobu Yaguchi’s first feature films, My Secret Cache is a quirky Japanese comedy that would pave the way for his later films stylistically. Operating in a slightly unrealistic world, the film is populated with odd characters, visual gags, and some superb dry humor. A generally simple plot that could pretty much go anywhere, Yaguchi chooses to focus on the journey, and rightly so. The jokes come a mile a minute and there is nary a one that doesn’t hit the funny bone dead on. A fairly light comedy as well, it offers low stakes but an immense amount of entertainment.
Naomi Nishida commands the screen as the slothful and unmotivated Sakiko. At first somewhat unlikable, she turns into a fine protagonist as you go through the trials she faces with her. Her obsession borders on insane but but there is a decided charm to her singularly minded quest. More than a little goofy, Nishida’s Sakiko is absolutely hilarious with her facial expressions, body language, and odd naivety.
Production on the film is good though the look of the film does look dated compared to the digitally shot look of Yaguchi’s films today. Using a variety of static shots, the look will be familiar to fans of Wes Anderson. The few dynamic shots are well done and the movement of events and characters in the frame is smooth and telling. The soundtrack is excellent; utilizing bagpipes and Highlands style instruments, the film is given a light and airy tone that suits the laid back and satisfying atmosphere of the picture.
Absolutely hilarious and criminally underrated, My Secret Cache stands up with any of the best Japanese comedies of the last 20 years. Delicately emphasizing the importance of goals in life and the steps necessary to get there, the film offers a hugely rewarding experience that will be sure to remembered. A film I’ve enjoyed for a number of years, I always relish an opportunity to revisit it. Not one to miss, track down a copy and see it!
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Swing Girls, Adrenaline Drive, Nacho Libre, and/or Waterboys