Mitsuko Delivers is a wacky Japanese comedy starring Riisa Naka as a pregnant woman finding her way in life. Mitsuko, in the final month of her pregnancy, is very direct when dealing with people, indeed verging on insultingly blunt, but has a fantastic outlook on life which allows her to float free as the clouds from one calamitous situation to the next enriching the lives of all around her as she goes.
Lying to her parents about being in California (she was there, got pregnant and returned to Japan in secret), Mitsuko is forced to move out of her Tokyo apartment and into a set of ramshackle tenements where she briefly lived as a child. Imposing on her old bedridden landlady she explains it is “Okay. I will impose on you, and you can impose on me”. This is very much her philosophy throughout, willingly giving away the last of her change to a jobless man and then demanding taxi fare from her former landlady. “Nevermind the details” she says, go with the wind. Moving back into the tenements reunites her with Yoichi, played by Aio Nakamura, who had declared that he loved her 15 years previous and vowed to marry her. Yoichi has been waiting all this time for Mitsuko to return and so commits to take care of her child regardless of the situation – even Mitsuko is light on the details of her pregnancy, barely elaborating beyond “I don’t really know, but he was kinda big and really black”.
It’s in Mitsuko’s, to the point, one liners that the real charm of the comedy lies. That and the continually bizarre web of characters that she weaves around her as she tries to help everyone she meets. Once she puts her mind to something it gets done, merely resolutely stating “Okay” and shouldering the burdens of others – whether they like it or not. As a character she’s marvellously slapstick, ambling around on the verge of giving birth at any minute, but as she says “don’t underestimate me because I’m kinda having a baby”. Don’t be disheartened if you find her a bit rude or annoying to begin with, it just seems that’s her way, and by the end its difficult not to love her.
As the story layers begin to increase so does the overall insanity, building up into a climax that is gloriously mental. Mitsuko is charming in her blithe disregard for social norms and in her unfailing will to help all around regardless of herself. Mitsuko Delivers starts off slow with few laughs, but once it gets going the madness is delightfully entertaining.
Mitsuko Delivers is in select theatres May 11 and will be available on DVD July 9.