Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto) is a restaurant proprietress who means well but who makes the worst noodles in Japan. How can she improve? Enter a lorry driver who initiates a training programme and recruits expert tuition for the creation of the quintessential noodle soup. Tampopo is a gastronomic Western, in which a mysterious strangeroShane as cheforides to the rescue of a household that needs help. But this is only half the picture. Alongside the main plot are deftly interwoven a series of comic sketches on the theme of food, glorious food. A gourmet gangster finds an erotic use for an egg yolk and dies with a recipe on his lips. A housewife on her deathbed responds to an entreaty from her distraught husband to cook one last meal, at which point she expires and the unhappy family eat it all up in honour of her memory while the foodoand the corpseoare still warm. The overall effect of director Juzo Itami’s film is, appropriately enough, like that of the perfect meal: it is a treat, and it leaves you wanting more.
Japan, 1986. English subtitles. Colour. 114 mins.

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