Come Back Anytime

#Review: Come Back Anytime – Japanese Film Festival Ireland 2023

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The Japanese Film Festival Ireland 2023 is in full swing and I was lucky enough to see several films that will be a part of the festival this year. One such film was Come Back Anytime. This documentary centres around a small ramen restaurant, Bizentei, in Tokyo that has been open for decades. The film follows the couple who runs it and the loyal community of customers that they have nurtured over the decades they have been open.

Talking heads and full bellies

Come Back Anytime is a charming and deliciously sentimental story about two people who have built an incredible life together. Throughout the film, the directors interview both Masamoto Ueda and his wife Kazuko. They tell anecdotes that include how they met and married at a young age and how Masamoto’s flirtations with gambling almost cost them dearly. They have lived a life together which culminated with them finding this intimate ramen restaurant. The film is then populated with the loyal customers of Masamoto, who feel more like a community he is in charge of.

They each have their own personal tale about how they met him. The stories range from how he set up a couple, to how he helped a customer get through an emotionally turbulent time in her life. They’re all sweet and at times quite emotional, as Bizentei is a beacon for them all.

Come Back Anytime – Give me that ramen!

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the food. Which looks fantastic by the way, Masamoto is a master of his craft and it’s a treat to watch him work. He is also quite humble, speaking on what he does as nothing special. He’s a self-proclaimed amateur, but I would say watching this film is like watching a master amateur. After all, he does so much incredible work to keep himself busy and to ensure his customers are well-fed.

The structure of the film is broken down into seasons. It’s nothing new as a framing device, beginning in Spring and ending in Winter. However, I will say what makes this work so well is how much the film endeared me to its cast. I cared about Masamoto and Kazuko and when Winter came, I found myself worried about the future. I found myself wanting to see him go on forever, but I knew he deserved rest.

Come Back Anytime is a film that I absolutely loved, and I will definitely be coming back for seconds.

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