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Review: Tampopo

The real reason that Tampopo holds such great appeal, is a personal memory, if this reviewer may reminisce a little bit. In first-year residence at university, there was a common room television that was shared by all, and in the middle of the night, (really, it might have been midnight), one of the residents, a second or third year student, had on the TV and the DVD player set to a very strange film, in which an older man and younger woman were passing an egg back and forth between their mouths. It was quite bizarre.

The film ended up being Tampopo (Dandelion), and on a proper re-watch, (the 4K transfer looks amazing, and the film looks like it is from yesterday and not 1985), the Juzo Itami film plays extremely well in a time in which global cuisine is now hyper-local, (to be honest, this reviewer probably had little idea in the early 2000’s as to the ubiquity of ramen less than fifteen years later). Tampopo opens with an incredible ode from an older man to a younger one as to how to properly appreciate a bowl of ramen, from the foreplay to the act itself, to afterwards, and if the whole thing seems overtly like sex, then that’s likely the point.

Tampopo ostensibly is about two milk truck drivers, one of whom is played by Ken Watanabe, who has amassed a great bit of success in America. The two are involved in the main plot, but there are a number of smaller plots and episodes, and the film is actually quite funny in places, and is really ahead of its time in its appreciation of cuisine and food culture, (as likely a “foodie” didn’t exist thirty years ago). The student watching the film all those years ago discussed an appreciation for farm-to-table and sustainable food and probably a lot of other concepts that didn’t come to the populace until years later. Although this film is screening now at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and has a release from Films We Like, erotic delights of Tampopo are perhaps best appreciated in a large group, or perhaps in a lush personal comfortable setting when the time is right. Either way, eat up.

[star v=4]