Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Midnight Diner / 深夜食堂 - Movie Review

The Movie: Midnight Diner / 深夜食堂

The Director: Tony Leung Ka Fai

The Cast: Tony Leung Ka Fai, Deng Chao, Eddie Peng, Vision Wei

The Story: Year after year, people flock from far and wide to the mysterious Midnight Diner to share their stories, savor delicious home cooking, and finally, to leave refreshed, feeling equally full and ready for their next adventure.

The Review:
If this movie and the story both sound familiar, they are based off of a very popular manga series and has also been adapted a couple different times, most recently as a series that you can watch right now on the Netflix. I have not watched any of the other iterations and I have not read the manga so everything about the movie was all new to me. I really like the idea of using the diner as a common thread that weaves together several different stories like how a recipe combines ingredients together to create a delicious meal.

Director Tony Leung Ka Fai, who also stars in the movie as the owner of the midnight diner, expertly brings the story and the characters to life and, even though there are so many stories that all interweave together, it all makes sense and never gets too overblown. The vibe of the movie is very much like a slice of life and, in some ways, almost feels like a documentary although there is the slightest hint of a mystical element at play that adds just a touch of whimsy and lightheartedness. The director also does a fine job managing his own performance by maintaining a calm and steady demeanor although you definitely get the idea that he can handle himself if any sort of trouble arrives.

Each of the different stories provides life lessons and emotional touchstones that make them all enjoyable and entertaining in their own way. What's most impressive is the variety and types of stories yet everything blends together and the entire production is very consistent from start to finish. By the time it is all said and done, you will also see how the stories are connected and each one affects the others in some way. I think a lot of this is due to the quality of the source material but director Tony Leung Ka Fai still does a great job translating it to a cinematic narrative.

The Verdict:
Midnight Diner is a slow simmering anthology that boils up at just the right times without ever feeling overcooked. Director and star Tony Leung Ka Fai, along with an excellent cast, has created a full course meal of a movie that will leave you happy and satisfied.

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