Ginga Tetsudo no Chichi



IMDb Rating 6.3/10 10 57 57

Plot summary

Masajiro Miyazawa owns and runs a pawn shop for generations. His first son is Kenji and his daughter is Toshi Miyazawa. Kenji is supposed to take over the pawn shop as the first son, but he refuses. Masajiro is soft on his son. Meanwhile, Toshi is smart and wise. She gives advice to her father and her older brother. One day, Toshi gets sick.

November 20, 2023 at 12:20 PM


Izuru Narushima

Top cast

Nana Mori as Toshi Miyazawa
Kôji Yakusho as Masajiro Miyazawa
1.15 GB
Japanese 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 8 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by / 10

Reviewed by FilmMining101 4 / 10

Heavy biopic on melodrama

Reviewed by Filmmining101:

"Father of the Milky Way Railroad" is a biopic with a twist. Dealing with the life of the famous children book author and poet Kenji Miyazawa, we are not witnessing those key events that contributed to his "rise" but rather we experience a number of significant moments through his father's perspective. It is an interesting framework even if it does not work as well as director Izuru Narushima wants it to do so. Balancing two tones - goofy comedy and (be prepared) wailing melodrama, "Father of the Milky Way Railroad" seems like it is wasting its intriguing premise.

The first half of this dramatic biopic has potential bearing a more restrained approach in Kenji's early years amidst some beautiful landscapes and just about right production design. Kenji's uncertainty of what to do does not sit well with his father who wants him to take over the family business (as a pawnbroker). What could have been the central conflict between past and present is sidelined due to a muddy script. We never know what makes Kenji's father tick or even Kenji himself. The film becomes too distracted with superficial details that eventually have no meaningful impact in the eventual growth of Kenji or his father.

Kenji wants to do something, his father disagrees only to back down at the last minute and the circle begins anew. The famous author's personality is not given enough room to breathe (perhaps intentionally) but we never understood why Kenji is so important considering there is a much more capable and smarter son (off screen). There is no catalyst here except disagreements for the sake of disagreements.

The rest of the cast has hardly any material to work with introduced out of thin air: suddenly there are 4 more siblings yet only one is named (Toshi). Toshi's relationship with Kenji, a contributing factor to his inclination towards storytelling is not explored besides an one minute sequence. Consequently, Kenji comes across as a rather naive, spoiled and parasitic individual since the audience has no one to hold him against as a comparison. Secondary characters like the old school grandfather or the kind-hearted mother serve as filler points entering and exiting the cine-frame under a limited line supply having nothing to do with Kenji's life decisions.

This motion picture lacks the stoic panache that similar biopics have, utterly devoid of a more interactive approach for the uninitiated which is a typical element of Japanese cinema. The writers and director make no attempts to ease and frankly engage those who are not aware of Miyazawa. It is expected of you to know specific key moments and influences and ride along. Yet, the biggest and most tiresome offender is the strong emphasis in the second half on large segments of melodramatic moments sucking out dry any goodwill the movie has left. Almost every new scene has someone crying backed by a try hard violin driven score to emotionally manipulate the audience on things which are not that deep or affectual. Word to the wise, this is not "Schindler's List" (1993).

But then again, the Japanese cinema's sensibilities have always been catering to the native audience unbothered to appeal towards foreign tastes and preferences. Japan's notorious appetite for excessive emotional expressions has not changed one bit in 2023. This type of execution makes you wonder how ahead of their time Ozu, Kurosawa, Fukasaku and Miyazaki were bringing a different take on telling stories with gravitas, depth and genuine emotion instead of hugging walking cinematic stereotypes.

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