Film Review: Fortune Favours Lady Nikuko

Kikuko and Nikuko live on a house boat

Food plays an important role in Japanese culture. In many ways, a meal can be as much a ritual as simply performing a vital function of survival. Take sushi chefs, for example. It’s a culinary skill which is as much an art form as it is an occupation. It can take up to ten years of rigorous training and dedication to become a master. While this might be an extreme example, food plays an essentially communal role in Japanese society. As it does in Fortune Favours Lady Nikuko.

Since moving to her new home, Kikuko (Cocomi) has been determined to keep her head down and get through school. This is made difficult by her best friend Maria (Izumi Ishii), who is determined to make waves. Then there’s her mother Nikuko (Shinobu Ôtake), a larger-than-life character who has a passion for food and exuberant behaviour. Their peaceful life in the harbour is put in jeopardy when the past catches us with them.

Fortune Favours Lady Nikuko is a warm-hearted and vibrant mother and daughter yarn which enjoys playing with its food. Following on from the wonderful Children of the Sea, director Ayumu Watanabe brings many of the same elements to the table in his coming-of-age tale. It’s inventive, fun and entertaining, but never quite reaches the same heights. However, Fortune Favours Lady Nikuko is never anything less than eminently watchable.

Fortune Favours Lady Nikuko has a special fan preview on 2 June before opening in select US cinemas on 3 June.

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