Happy Lunar New Year, everyone! 🧨 If you’re looking for a holiday movie for the festive season, this one just might fit the bill.
It’s a heartwarming Hallmark-esque sort of story, with a fantasy twist. Not your typical holiday movie, in that sense, but with enough of the cozy, poignant, warming feels that you’d tend to want, from a holiday movie, to make it a contender for your holiday screen time.
Psst: Links to watch are at the end of the review! ❤️
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Based on the Japanese novel, “The Miracles of the Namiya General Store” by Keigo Higashino, our story is about three troubled youths (Dong Zi Jian, Karry Wang and Dilraba Dilmurat), who seek refuge in an abandoned general store, and find themselves in a magical portal where they can receive and reply to letters sent from 30 years ago.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a couple of things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. Show isn’t ever clear about how the magic works, in its story world.
It’s best not to question it; it’s just the construct for the human stories, which are Show’s true focus.
2. Show tends to gloss over various details, in telling its story.
I rationalize that this is because of the limited screen time we have. I feel that a more metaphorical lens is helpful.
3. There’s a slight.. Hallmark quality, about this movie.
Everything leans a little cheesy, and the acting is of the.. less subtle variety. I don’t consider this necessarily a bad thing, but it’s probably useful to expect it, going in.
STUFF I LIKED
1. The individual stories of the letter-writers.
Each story was poignant and healing in its own way.
2. The deep-dive into the past, which give us scenes from the early 90’s.
The glimpse of China in the early 90’s reminded me of C-drama The Bond, which I finished watching fairly recently. I quite liked this.
3. The idea that a trio of troubled youth is behind the advice,
..that literally changes some of these people’s lives. It’s coolly ironic, that these youths, who haven’t got their own lives figured out, are actually helping people from 30 years ago. This really tickles my fancy quite well.
4. The idea that there is worth and value in helping others,
..even if there’s no obvious reward.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
I was admittedly slightly thrown for a loop, when Old Mr. Namiya (Jackie Chan) seems to foretell his own death so accurately.
Upon further thought, I rationalize that we’re told he’d been feeling unwell, and had only recently felt better, which is why he’s making this trip back to the store.
Most likely, he’d only made a momentary recovery, and had had a gut feeling, that his time was almost up, which would then explain the letter he prepares for his nephew, instructing him on how to handle the store and his funeral.
I thought it was rather convenient that several of our stories are actually interlinked, but in a small story world like this, I’m willing to just roll with it. Six degrees of separation and all, y’know.
Aside from the main idea that Show serves up, that there is value and worth in helping others, I also really like the idea, that our three troubled youth end up receiving just as much as they give, in this one magical night.
As cheesy as it is, I like that they did get an answer to the blank letter that they’d sent, to Old Mr. Namiya.
And I do like the idea that his reply turns out to be such a defining moment for them, as they decide to start afresh and have faith in themselves, as they draw their own maps, for their lives.
I also like that little epilogue snippet, where we see Xiao Bo (Karry Wang) put up a sign next to the store, announcing:
Our counseling service will resume today. As before, please submit your questions in writing through the front mail box. Replies will be left in the milk box at the back on the next day. Feel free to share your problems. Hope we can help.
The Namiya Store.
Aw. I do love this idea, that this one magical night has given our trio a taste for helping others, and that they will now carry on Old Mr. Namiya’s caring legacy. 🥰
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Reasonably feel-good and aspirational, in its Hallmark-esque sort of way.
FINAL GRADE: B+
WHERE TO WATCH:
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