Film review: The Miracles of the Namiya General Store – Keigo Higashino’s nostalgic novel gets tangled adaptation
While the film’s emotional impact is diluted by complicated timelines and there’s not enough fleshing out of the characters, its story centred on a kindly shopkeeper and his worldly advice evokes fond memories of simpler times
Adapted from a novel by the bestselling author Keigo Higashino, The Miracles of the Namiya General Store takes a nostalgic dive into Japan’s not-so-distant past, as three adolescents discover a means of communicating with strangers from 1980.
The shop of the film’s title was run for years by the kindly Namiya (Toshiyuki Nishida), an elderly man who imparted homespun wisdom to customers in need of advice. In 2012, as three youths (including pop idol Ryosuke Yamada) hide out in the now derelict store following a burglary, a letter is slipped through the door – allegedly written by a girl three decades earlier.
The young men respond and receive another letter almost immediately. As the night wears on, more letters are discovered seeking advice on all manner of life’s problems.
Directed by Ryuichi Hiroki, the film jumps back and forth in time, following each of the letter writers and learning more about their individual troubles. The story also revisits Namiya, and explores why he gave good advice to strangers.
Brimming with nostalgia for a simpler time, when stores like Namiya’s thrived and provided a focal point for neighbourhood communities, Miracles struggles to give sufficient screen time to all of its characters and their myriad story threads.
As a result, some of the film’s emotional effectiveness is lost in a tangle of timelines, but those familiar with the source material may find their way to the film’s admittedly super-sized heart.
The Miracles of the Namiya General Store opens on October 19
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