How a Japanese Movie Reminds Me of Mercy

I am sitting on the AC015 flight to Hong Kong now, just finished watching the second movie: 深宵食堂 midnight diner. It’s an interesting movie like most of the Japanese movies I have watched.

The diner is run by a guy (people call him Master) in his 50s with a scar over his eye and face. (The movie never explains the scar, but I would assume he was probably a 從良了的江湖大佬). This place is like a community or cell group of its own. The customers know one another and feel comfortable with sharing personal stories with each other: broke up, had an affair, challenges at work etc. And the Master has a merciful heart, when people have nowhere to go, he would offer to help, starting by cooking something they want to eat.

What I find special is how people can open up so much, to share very difficult struggles. In some cases, like the woman who had an affair with a rich guy, when he died, at first she didn’t have any inheritance, and in this place, a young fellow expressed interest and they quickly hit it off, and the relationship ended the moment she found she had a share with the guy’s money. The other folks find this woman pretty bad and criticized her. But after a while she seems to be welcomed again.

People’s struggles are very unique and real, despite the fact that I don’t fully understand some of the details. The girl who came from rural place, who had nowhere to go, ate 霸王餐 at first and went back to ask to be hired. And the first thing Master offered was a few bucks so she could have a bath.

And the story between the man who lost his wife in the Tsunami, who got led on by the volunteer… Going all the way to Tokyo to ask to be with her, facing the rejection and acted out… Turns out the volunteer used the volunteer experience to help get herself back together after being dumped with the boss whom she had an affair with…

The weird cop and the delivery girl, who seems to be 弱智… Very interesting and warm interactions.

And the scene where the customers ate there in Halloween costumes, it’s not funny funny but it’s interesting in a way that I can’t articulate.

I think what touches me is the kind of relationship that people can build when they open up, not afraid of being judged,  whatever mistakes they had committed. And that’s a place where new people can join and be accepted. The Master helps me understand what being merciful is about. It’s being gentle. It’s not being super nice to you that the receiving end doesn’t know how to pay back. It starts by offering something small, it’s a gesture to show the other person “I delight in your existence” (from “Consoling the Heart of Jesus”). This gesture is small yet is the most important thing to establishing the relationship, it’s supposed to meet the need of that person at that moment.

Japanese movies amaze me that the stories are so unique and so full of 人性, so realistic and so 有血有肉.

From 情書, to 藉著雨點說愛你, to 禮儀師之奏鳴曲, to 告白, to (unknown: about a man played by 唐澤壽明 who played a PowerRangers figure), to (unknown: about how a young guy gifted in music formed a band with friends, but was manipulated by the agent), to (unknown: how a family survived the Tsunami), to 字裡人間, to 誰調換了我的父親.

Wish to see these movies again…


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