Nothing else like it, our pick for Fantasia’s Film of the Year. My Broken Mariko is a kaleidoscope of fragmented memories into the decades of misery that led Mariko Ikagawa to take her own life.
How a stained, damaged childhood led to rock bottom self esteem… And an overly eager need to make others happy for the slightest hint of validation. Thus, experiencing one-way abusive relationships in adulthood.
My Broken Mariko also shows how Mariko’s best friend, who loved her unconditionally like a mother, is forced to go on without her. But unable to cope. Showing Mariko’s permanent decision didn’t end on the day of.
This My Broken Mariko Review contains spoilers. The film was viewed at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival.
My Broken Mariko plays out a bit like Christopher Nolan’s Memento, only with best friend Tomoyo Shiino (Mei Nagano) reliving memories through old letters from Mariko. A mix of serene, pretty moments where the two got close to savagely ruthless nightmares you’ll never forget.
Nao Honda gives an absolutely brilliant performance as Mariko Ikagawa, a gentle soul so desperate to be loved, she will endure any pain to receive it. There are so many scenes that leave a permanent impression on you in My Broken Mariko it’s difficult to narrow it down but we’ve featured 6 unforgettable ones below.
It all starts at home. Mariko can’t go out.
A young Tomoyo Shiino overhears Mariko’s father screaming and beating her through the doors of their apartment. Mariko attempts to apologize but continues to be beaten until Tomoyo Shiino, still a child herself, begins yelling to open the door, slamming on it with all her might. Threatening to call the police if the door is not opened immediatley.
A bruised up young Mariko opens the door halfway, her father in the background, and tearfully says “I’m sorry Shii-chan, I can’t go out tonight.”
Love and a broken arm
As an adult, Mariko lies on a bed, bruised up and smiling as an abusive boyfriend slams on her door, demanding to come in. Tomoyo Shiino is there at the time and yells at him to leave at once. However she can’t shake off the visual of Mariko smiling like that.
The next day Mariko Ikagawa invites Shii-chan to pancakes in a diner with her arm freshly in a cast. Tomoyo Shiino is furious with Mariko, not understanding why Mariko went to see him after everything.
All Mariko can say is she doesn’t deserve happiness and everything has always been her fault. But that even if Shii-chan is angry at her, it makes her happy that she cares about her.
Stealing the ashes
In Mei Nagano’s top scene as Tomoyo Shiino, she tricks the second wife of Mariko’s father to let her in as a kind of door to door saleswoman. She then steals Mariko’s ashes from her father as she recounts how he beat her middle school, took her away her sexual innocence in high school, and caused Mariko’s mother to leave her.
A scene is shown earlier of Mariko telling Shii-chan how her mother left because she claimed Mariko “seduced her father”. That what he did was Mariko’s fault.
Even years later Mariko’s father is violent, hitting his second wife as Shii-chan jumps out the window with Mariko’s ashes in tow. From then on, Shii-chan takes the ashes of her friend to all the places she wanted to go but never could because of her father.
Then fearful it would “make him unhappy”. Even places as simple as the beach.
A teenage Mariko in high school threatens to end her life if Shii-chan ever gets a boyfriend and abandons her. She then shows her scarred wrist and cuts her self right in front of Tomoyo Shiino.
Tears drop as Mariko breaks down about having no one in her life without Shii-chan. The moment is devastating to watch.
Subtleness, it’s all in the details. The cheek mark
A very young Mariko, tries to sit closer and closer to Tomoyo Shiino. Seemingly mesmerized by having a friend and any kind of positive feedback. Mariko’s cheek is already lightly bruised and there is a small band aid by her eye.
Life steamrolls on… To most Mariko’s death was a news blurb during lunch. Barely paid attention to
It’s telling that for best friend Tomoyo Shiino, her whole world goes topsy-turvy when she hears her friend leaped to her death on the news at a ramen/udon eatery. But for everyone else it’s just an ordinary day, the news barely making the faintest impact. A statement on society.
My Broken Mariko is an incredible film and you’ll quickly lose all track of time, experiencing complete immersion. Nao Honda and Mei Nagano both give stunning performances, full of fragile vulnerability and compassion.
Review Score: 9.2 out of 10
EDITOR’S NOTE My Broken Mariko won the Best Screenwriter Award at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival. Kosuke Mukai and Yuki Tanada share the award for the Japanese film directed by Yuki Tanada.
My Broken Mariko will see an additional screening at 11:00 am on Sunday, July 31, 2022 at Salle J.A. De Sève.
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