The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden ★★★★½

“In a word, what motivates you?”

“I want the money.”

Yaguchi's most underrated film. Granted I haven't really been in touch with his fan base for a number of years, but after reading through most of the reviews on here, I can't help but feel like it's being undervalued. This certainly isn't his best-made film, and for what it's worth I'm not sure this would even make my top two, but I think My Secret Cache is the best example of what really elevates Yaguchi's films above the rest of their genre. Down the Drain made use of the same rabbit hole of micro-adventures, but was let down by an inconsistent tone and some shoddy craftsmanship. My Secret Cache has a lighter tone, better stunts, and some extremely memorable performances, all in a similarly compact and compelling plot that is damn near impossible to predict. Yaguchi uses all these seemingly mundane and random micro-adventures to form one character arc in a way that makes every coincidence feel not just plausible, but purposeful. That's the magic of Shinobu Yaguchi...his films are basically a string of gags and set pieces connected by one fully realized and uplifting character arc, it's something so simple but there are few who can make it feel so endearing and sincere. Marvelous rewatch, Yaguchi's first great film and a sign of what was to come with Waterboys and Swing Girls, even if they take different approaches.

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