Monday, July 23, 2012

Miporin no Ekubo (Japan 2010)

Oh boy, movies likes Miporin no Ekubo (みぽりんのえくぼ ) are a bit difficult to review, so I guess I'll use a strange analogy to try and describe it. When you see the rundown of a movie like this, it's a bit like a can of Coke; you know exactly what you're getting. That Coke is gonna taste like a Coke every time and these types of movie are always going to unapologetically go straight for your heartsrings. Based on a true story...oh boy indeed.

Miho aka Miporin (Manatsu Kimura), is a 13 year old who is going to die. Boom! Right off the bat we're told she's going to die by none other than Miporin herself. This young girl hasn't had the easiest life. When she was two years old she was diagnosed with leukemia but she fought her way through it like the little trooper she is. She's just starting junior high, things are looking good and we can see that her mother (Ryoko Hirosue), father (Tomoya Nagase), and older sister Minami (Mayuko Fukuda), make up a tight-knit, loving family. On Miporin's first day of junior high school, she's in the midst of new-class orientation when suddenly her vision gets blurred and a sharp pain runs through her head, causing her to pass out. She's taken to the hospital to be examined and the doctor's conclude that Miporin had simply succumb to the pressures of starting school. Whew, close call right? Well Miporin is back to school the next day, in the gym with her friends shooting some hoops, when suddenly the same thing happens; blurred vision, sharp head pain and out she goes. Something is definitely not right here. Her parents rush to the hospital to be by her side and the doctor's decide to do some more extensive testing. After an MRI scan, the doctors sadly inform Mom and Dad that Miporin has a brain tumor. The parents agree to let the doctors go forward with a treatment, which isn't a guaranteed cure, but they're desperate.

Since she's stuck in the hospital, Dad picks up some art-letters at the local hobby shop to try and help lift Miporin's spirits. These art-letters are basically letter sized cards that you can paint on to tell a story or simply to create a picture. Mom and Dad figured it would be a nice, creative way for Miporin to express herself during her stay in the hospital. Miporin really takes to the idea and soon finds herself drawing a new picture everyday. The doctors and other patients are really impressed with her pictures and love gathering around to see what she'll draw next. After the initial treatments are finished, the doctors have more bad news for the family and inform the parents that the tumor has come back and that their initial treatment had failed. All this attention that Miporin's getting has also taken it's toll on her older sister, who isn't aware of how serious young Miho's disease is. Minami begins feeling jealous and starts acting nasty to everyone. She's a teenager. What do you expect? Yes, I'm generalizing. A couple of surgeries later, the doctors tell the parents that they've done all they can for Miporin and that she doesn't have much time left before she passes. That being said, the family feels it's best, and the doctors agree, to let Miporin spend the small amount of time she hast left, at home with her family. At this point, Mom has no choice but to tell Minami how serious Miporin's condition is. The time you knew was coming eventually comes and Miporin passes on, leaving behind 359 artistic letters documenting her journey in the hospital and through her illness. Her family knows how important the pictures were to them, to Miporin and to others that saw them, so they make a decision to ensure that people can continue to see them.

Okay, so that's probably the first time I've told almost every bit of a movie in a review before, but I promise I kept it spoiler-free. So before you yell at me, remember that the main character tells you right away that she's going to die when she narrates! Now, Miporin no Ekubo (Miporin's Dimples), was a made-for-TV movie, or as they say here in Japan, a "television special", which has it's heart in the right place; telling a story of a terminally ill young girl who touches the lives of others through her letters. Even though it's based on a true-story, the melodrama in this film just oozes out of every second of it's one hour and forty-one minute running time. Now I don't know about you, but for me, that can get real old, real fast. The acting wasn't particularly impressive, aside from Ryoko Hirosue as Miporin's mother because, let's face it, she's a pro at this point. The story, again while based on real events, felt as by-the-numbers as you can get. Girl is happy. Girl gets sick. Girls get treated and we're given a ray of hope. Hope gets dashed. Girl dies. You've seen that before and probably many times. When Miporin finally does see the light at the end of the film, her final scene is really over-the-top and young Manatsu Kimura puts on a "dying" voice that is cringe worthy.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't have an abundant supply of "Haterade" before watching Miporin no Ekubo. I like the fact that the real Miporin's letters touched peoples hearts and affected their lives for the better, but I guess her story didn't translate well to the screen for me. Sometimes movies can be just too cliche for their own good. (Lee)

Grade: D

(I don't have a trailer, so enjoy the first 15 minutes!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sometimes movies just limit what the real stories is holding. what a shame.. i enjoyed your review. keep going! _dahye