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The Japanese Wife

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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(Jul 13, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

Snehmoy (Rahul Bose) and Miyage (Chigusa Takaku) are pen friends who exchange wedding vows through letters. Fifteen years pass but they never meet. Yet the bond of marriage is strong between them. This unusual relationship comes under a cloud when a young widow, Sandhya (Raima Sen), comes to stay with Snehmoy along with her eight-year-old son Poltu. Snehmoy and the little boy bond and the arithmetic teacher discovers the joy of palpable bonds and fatherhood. There develops an inexplicable thread of understanding with Sandhya too. But Snehmoy remained loyal to his unseen Japanese wife. When Miyage was ill from cancer, he took a long leave from his school and tried his best to find a cure for the illness. Meanwhile, malaria took a toll on him and he passed away. Coming of Miyage in a white sari to Sunderbans after his departure was really touching.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Rahul Bose, Raima Sen, Chigusa Takaku, Moushumi Chatterjeei, Rudranil Ghosh
  • Directors: Aparna Sen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English, Bengali, Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Synergetic Distribution
  • DVD Release Date: July 13, 2010
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003M5P9GK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,617 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Snehomoy Chatterjee (Rahul Bose), a teacher in a school in the Sunderbans of West Bengal; Miyagi, the Japanese girl (Chigusa Takaku)who became his wife through an exchange of letters, and Sandhya, a widow, who by turn of events, takes refuge in his home.

It all begins when Snehomoy is a student in Serampore College, living in a hostel,preparing for his graduation. Too shy to make friends among his "too-active" classmates, he writes a letter to a woman in Japan he finds in a magazine under the `pen friends' section. The reply arrives in a month which results in a friendship between two people who doesn't share a common language, does not share a common culture, and are yet compelled to communicate with the aid of dictionaries in a foreign language, often with hilarious results.

It would probably have continued in this vein if it hadn't been for Snehomoy's aunt's (Moushumi Chatterjee) adopted daughter Sandhya (Raima Sen).

She is brought to their house because the widowed aunt, who had brought Snehomoy up, is trying to find a prospective bride for her nephew. When Snehomoy writes to Miyagi about her, as he does about every important and unimportant event, a letter arrives that changes the course of his life.

In this particular letter Miyagi offers herself to him as his bride.

After weighing the matter over for some time, Snehamoy finally agrees to Miyagi's proposal. Tokens are exchanged between the two, making them man and wife. She sends him a silver wedding ring with her name engraved on it. He sends her a pair of conch shell bangles and a packet of vermillion powder - the traditional signs of marriage among Bengali women.
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Let's just get this out of the way right off the bat. This film deserved much better than it received in this release. The film is in (broken) English, Bengali, and Japanese. As such, subtitles are necessary for all but the extreme polyglot. And there are indeed subtitles, but they are not removable, and they are often extremely hard to read as they blend into the images too often. I had the sense that I was missing significant portions of the movie.

Fortunately, though, the story is fairly simple, a combination of 84 Charing Cross Road and Marty (1954). A young Indian man begins a pen-pal correspondence with a young Japanese woman. They write in English, the only language they have in common, and their relationship soon grows into something rather powerful. Indeed, after a few years, she suggests they marry, which they do. Sort of. They still have not met at this time and are not able to afford to do so in order to get married, so each simply honors the marriage in his or her heart. This matter is facilitated by the fact that both characters are extremely shy and seem to find courage, freedom, and, indeed, love in their writing--which is odd in that neither is especially proficient at English.

Most of the movie is set in India, and the flavor of the film is one of its charms. The setting is as much a character as any of the humans, and it is used to good effect. But the heart of the film is ultimately very human, and it includes a love story as potent as any in my recent memory.
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Ok, I HATE movies with subtitles. I dislike stories set in 3rd world countries. I favor stories with some drama and action. So why did I rate this movie the highest 5 stars? It is a movie that tells an unusual story, not exactly a love story but more of a tale of communication between a man and two women...communication despite poverty induced lack of technical gizmos and cross cultures...across continents and oceans. It is a tale of how shy and lonely people can somehow have a normal relationship in a very un-normal way. She is the typical loyal Japanese wife and he finds himself tempted by a flesh and blood woman that is living right in his own home. The "other" woman was supposed to marry him and feels she has to remain loyal to the man she did marry and who is now dead--even though she also finds herself tempted. It is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time...and in the end manages to make the viewer cry--and smile. Only a subtitled, 3rd world backdrop, non-action film could have pulled that off.

Oh and just to show how much I respected and loved this very odd film, I ordered two copies to be shared with two friends.
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Format: DVD
Penpal Romance
Aparna Sen needs no introduction, her movies have been great and I have managed to see almost all of them, 36 Chowringhee Lane and Mr. and Mrs. Iyer are personal favorites. The Japanese Wife may seem as an oddball film for many viewers will equally satisfy many of them.
Snehamoy (Rahul Bose) is a shy math teacher in a small rural town who takes up writing to an equally shy pen pal Miyage (Chigusa Takaku) in Japan. Little do they know that their relationship would soon blossom and they would become husband and wife. Poverty and circumstances prevent them for meeting each other for 15 years but their communication is frequent and love stronger than ever. A young widow Raima Sen ends up taking refuge at Snehamoy's house at the insistence of his aunt played by Moshmi Chatterjee and she is quietly attracted to him. Snehamoy remains fully committed to his Japanese wife. The movie ending was one of the most ironic and heartbreaking that I have seen in recent times.
Rahul Bose was great as the shy teacher. Moushmi Chatterjee makes a welcome return and Raima Sen and Chigusa Takaku both manage to play their difficult roles with ease. The photography was great and the Sunderbans look beautiful, it is hard to imagine that such pristine places still exist in India. The only grouse that I had was the poor film transfer to DVD, it seems that one is watching an old VHS tape and could be the reason for many people hating the movie. I enjoyed the film. Four stars 1/15/10
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