Director: Yoshihiro Fukagawa
Starring: Yu Aoi, Yosuke Eguchi, Noriko Eguchi, Keiko Toda, Hiroyuki Onoue
I am a sucker for films about food. As someone with very little culinary ability, I marvel at the prowess showed in creating a great dish and I love even more being able to partake in it. I am also a sucker for films featuring Yu Aoi. One of my favorite actresses in cinema, she continually surprises me with her performances and continued ability to learn new skills in the pursuit of making her character more believable. So when I heard that she had a film wherein she plays a chef AND it featured the great Yosuke Eguchi, I thought “I have to see this film.”
Patisserie Coin de Rue tells the story of Natsume, played by Yu Aoi, a young woman who has come to Tokyo looking for her boyfriend who had left her hometown to study in Tokyo to become a pastry chef. Upon reaching the place of his employment, Coin de Rue, she finds that he has quit and no leads as to his whereabouts are evident. As the daughter of a local pastry chef back home, she has experience and convinces the head chef Yuriko, played by Keiko Toda, to take her on as an apprentice. With skills inadequate for a high-class pastry shop she sets out to better herself as a patissier. When misfortune befalls the shop, only one man can help, Tomura, played by Yosuke Eguchi, a legendary patissier and colleague of Yuriko that for unknown reasons has stopped making cakes and desserts.
As a longtime fan of Yu Aoi, I always look forward to seeing her new work. In the film, she brings a charm to her Natsume, a young woman crushed by her boyfriend’s betrayal, but able to find a place and career she loves in the shop. The film definitely shows her growing as a person and patissier, with dedicated strides taken to better herself. Reportedly she learned an accent from Kagoshima in Japan for her character, and I did not necessarily pick up on it, but apparently from local reviewers, the accent is quite accurate. She brings an energy to her character that make all the scenes she is in very engaging. Her character is immensely likable and a great point of view for the audience. Yosuke Eguchi plays his typically stoic self and gives a pretty smoldering performance as the tortured Tomura. A good cast of supporting characters helps the two leads, including Noriko Eguchi, Nathan Berg, and Mizuho Suzuki.
Like many films that use food as a central theme, Patisserie Coin de Rue showcases many delicious looking cakes and the techniques used to create them. Photography of the baking process provides a certain appreciation to the work and craftsmanship that goes into the creation of quality cuisine. As I’ve stated in a prior review, I am a huge believer in the power of food to affect the human condition. It can change perspective, change your mood, and, indeed, change your life. The power these cakes possess isn’t magical per se, but the influence they have on their regular customers is indeed larger than many would expect. For the viewer, the mouth-watering creations on display add a layer of visual satisfaction that not only film lovers, but food lovers will love. Of note is the musical score as well, composed by Mamiko Hirai. Not a name I was familiar with going into the film, but I really enjoyed the composition in the film. The music was particularly well one in scenes with no dialogue, such as montages and long takes. Beautiful camera placement and movement make the film a pleasing view.
There are some flaws, however much I enjoyed the film. It is a bit predictable storywise. The question of woman in the workplace is briefly addressed in the film, though it doesn’t really resonate with this particular male and Western living reviewer. Indeed, Japan’s modern woman is living a life of independence which isn’t uncommon in today’s American society, but it is much more relevant in the film’s native land where such changes in society are much more recent. There are a few plotholes, mostly concerning motivation, and I felt it weakened the final act of the film a bit. In the end though, the good greatly outweighs the bad. Solid and engaging film making with a positive story and good performances, Patisserie Coin de Rue is definitely worth your time if you are a fan of Japanese human drama. Recommended.
You may enjoy Patisserie Coin de Rue if you enjoyed: Lunch Queen and hana & alice