The Great Passage
PRODS Tsuchii Tomoo, Goka Kimitaka, Ikeda Fumitsugu, Iwanami Yasuyuki
SCR Watanabe Kensaku
CAM Fujisawa Junichi
ED Fushima Shinichi
PROD DES Harada Mitsuo
MUS Watanabe Takash
PROD CO Shochiku Co., Ltd.
Guess it had to happen: Ishii Yuya has transitioned from idiosyncratic indie movies like Sawako Decides and Mitsuko Delivers to a big-budget movie with stars for a major company. So he’s gone from celebrations of strong-willed misfit women to… the compilation of a new dictionary. Don’t worry, his characteristic humour and warmth come through intact.
In 1995, Majime Mitsuya (played by Matsuda Ryuhei, the boy from Gohatto) is drafted into the reference department of Genbu Publishing to work on The Great Passage, a 240,000-word Japanese dictionary which will recognize changes in the language and include up-to-date slang. Much happens in the 14 years before it hits print: the publisher gets cold feet, the project leader is invalided out, and the geeky Mitsuya finds absolute fulfillment, with a serving of true love on the side. (She’s his neighbour in an old-world lodging house, and a great chef.) An entertainment on a Dickensian scale, crammed with interesting characters and amusing details. Ishii delivers!
Japan’s official contender for the Academy Award’s Best Foreign Film of 2013.
— Tony Rayns