Criterion Collection Pick of the Week: Mr. Thank You

Mr. Thank You (1936)

Director: Hiroshi Shimizu

Country: Japan

Running Time: 1 hr. 18 min.

It’s the holiday season!  Time to bring out the hot chocolate, peppermint candy canes, stockings, presents of all kind, and the traditions that come with it.  While we may be busy clamoring in the library working on our conference papers, we can’t resist the joy of the holidays.  Unfortunately, as we all know, some are not as fortunate as others. We often try and help by doing toy drives and making other donations.

So for those who love a feel-good story, ordinary people that get what they want on their wish lists, and a character that may remind you of Santa Claus (or any other figure that you admire that gives you all the holiday presents), look no further than this hidden gem.  The film centers around a bus driver who travels across the country transporting people to various destinations.  Along the way, he runs into fans that ask him favors (ex: goodies from larger cities or blessings for the sick or dead) and always politely thanks those in his way on the road for letting him drive by (hence his nickname Mr. Thank You).

Among the passengers on his trip in the film is a mother and daughter duo, an obsessive woman who migrates everywhere, and an obnoxious man who disguises himself in a hideous mustache, and various others. Throughout the ride to Tokyo, they deal with requests from villagers and countrymen and each other.  The daughter is on her way to be sold into prostitution in Tokyo, and for her it’s an embarrassment. There doesn’t seem to be a way out.

The film uses long static takes, taking in everyone’s interactions with each other.  It also shows off Japan’s luscious countryside (the film was shot on location).  This captures something that I don’t see often in international films, and that is warmth.  Although it is a drama it absolutely had me smiling throughout the short running time.  The beauty of the setting mixes in perfectly with the semi-cheery tone it has.  Mr. Thank You’s generous attitude towards others is what also gels the film at its core: a desirable story to its audience.

Mr. Thank You is not a Christmas tale, but the joy and themes are relatable to the holiday season. This rarely known gem definitely needs a viewing over the holidays.


Image Credit: Google Images

Screenwriter. Humanities scholar. Cinephile. Samantha hails from Richmond, Virginia. She hates Hollywood synergy and people that get on her nerves. When she's not busy writing her next masterpiece or watching movies on Netflix and Hulu Plus, she serves on Student Senate, Student Life, SSSF, and SLAC where she tries to make "home" a better place for other students. Samantha would also like for people to understand that she loves Jean-Luc Godard films, even though he's anti-semitic and she's a Jew.

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