Posted: 09/09/2009


White on Rice

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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“White on Rice hits every comedic beat with surgical precision,” AsianWeek.

White on Rice is a funny independent comedy about Hajime or Jimmy, an unemployed, recently divorced, quirky Japanese man who moves to California to live with his sister, her hubby and young son named Bob.

Jimmy, such a strange name for a Japanese, lives a carefree life in his brother-in-law’s home, while sleeping with his young nephew. He claims he will re-marry, once he finds a woman who is much better than his ex-wife, while his brother in law would love for him to just find a job and move out of his family’s home.
He and his sister, Aiko, are close and she seems to be content with the brother living there, because he tends to provide company for the couple’s young son.

Jimmy goes through much culture shock, as well as a mangling of the English language, as he confuses some common words. He has a strange love for geology and dinosaurs, which he satisfies by taking classes at the city college.

He is also smitten with the niece of his brother-in-law, Ramona, but, of course—since Jimmy never has much good luck—she’s not interested in him. Instead she prefers a rock singer (Tim) whom Jimmy feels isn’t good enough for her.
Jimmy works in his brother-in-law’s business and one day after having an intimate moment with Ramona under his desk, he decides to take Tak, his brother-in-law’s Mercedes to try to further impress the young woman. After he stops traffic to insist upon giving her a ride, he discovers that he’s locked himself out of the car. His solution—knock the front window out with a brick. He quickly returns the car to the office parking lot, with Tak thinking that someone broke into the car to steal a gift that he had purchased for his wife.

White on Rice is a funny movie, it has good moments, even if in the end all Jimmy winds up with is a young lady he met at a masquerade party, who’s willing to drive off and relocate to Montana with him.

Director Dave Boyle (“Big Dreams Little Tokyo”) wrote this tale of a 40-year-old man really bent on navigating his way through life, even at such an old age. But even though Jimmy seems to make progress, he also seems to not mature throughout the process

Ramona is played by Lynn Chen; Tim is played by James Kyson Lee; Jimmy is played by Hiroshi Watanabe; Aiko is played by Japanese Academy Award winner Nae (known in Japan as Yuki Nae); Tak is played by Mio Takada, and young Bob is played by newcomer Justin Kwong. “Hilarious and heartwarming, White on Rice is a Japanese-American treat” that will open in selected theaters on September 11.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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