Set in Finland, Kamome Diner is a slice of Sachie’s (played by Satomi Kobayashi) life. Sachie, living alone, has opened a diner in Helsinki to serve people some Japanese food. Initially she has no customers but soon she meets two other Japanese women who seem to be “lost on the way of life”. Also, somehow the diner seems to be attracting people with problems. This interesting premise is taken in a very wholesome and heart-warming direction.
Ogigami’s quirky central characters are sweet and kind but also very strong and independent women. With a consistent and restrained dose of comedy the characters bond slowly over time as if they are meant to. The bonding is over the problem of feeling out of place in life. “A sad person is sad in any country” says Midori. There is more than the food and hospitality that is offering solace at the diner. There is a sense of belonging. But none of the characters offer optimism and peace consciously. After all it’s a diner. There is something magically charming yet genuinely real about that idea of fraternity. “I envy you, you do what you like” says Masako and Sachie replies “No, I just don’t do what I don’t like”. That is not a blindly optimistic outlook but one that comes with wisdom. Ogigami also smartly avoids love interests, family drama and money transactions in the whole film. The biggest strengths here are the script that is never in a hurry to get anywhere and Satomi Kobayashi’s adorable performance as Sachie. There are some magical nuggets laid out through the film which emphasize the core ideas here. With all that said the Finnish characters here do not bring as much flair or multi-dimensionality as the central characters. While this is not my favorite Naoko Ogigami film (keep an eye out for that reveal one day!) it is a very relaxing watch and unlike any other drama.
All your favorite dishes and sofas/beds will have a hard time against Kamome diner’s coziness.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.