Film review – Spaghetti Code Love (Takeshi Maruyama, 2021)

Takeshi Maruyama’s latest is one with an unusual feel. An ensemble piece made up of interrelated tales, the most likely outcome for Spaghetti Code Love would have been a confusing mess of a film. Somehow, despite risking a drop in pace in the middle, the exact opposite happens here and you’re rewarded for sticking with a daunting initial task.

Why daunting? Well, I lost count of how many stories there were. There was a woman at a pachinko arcade, a struggling photographer, an angry model, a nervous busker, a clingy wife, an emotionally distant young couple, two school kids planning their deaths, an even young student planning his entire life, a woman wasting money on a psychic and her neighbour who is addicted to Skippy peanut butter. I certainly missed a few!

Somehow, the film manages to keep you abreast of all of these varied stories, all of which play out in a beautifully shot Tokyo. Not only that, but they build to a crescendo and are somehow tied together in a neatly positive conclusion across the board.

I’m glad I was fairly focused and in the mood to be challenged, but I’m worried that if I’d been cloudy of mind I may have struggled to keep up. For international audiences, the sheer volume of stories might make the film a little inaccessible.

The standout plot thread for me involved the brilliant Tôko Miura (who recently starred in the Oscar-nominated Drive My Car) as a musician grappling with her own self-confidence. In an ensemble cast full of talent, I found her woes hugely relatable and her delivery was highly memorable.

Certainly worth watching.

Note: I watched this as part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme at Broadway in Nottingham, an annual festival that offers British cinema goers a first look at the latest cinematic releases from Japan.

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