Mitsuya Majime (Ryuhei Matsuda) is, by all accounts, a word person. Physically clumsy and socially awkward, he only truly feels at home within the rules and confines of lexicography, or when relaxing in solitude at his boarding house with his cat, Tora-san. After struggling in the sales division of the Genbu Books publishing company, he manages to land his dream job in the Dictionary Editorial Department, where he can use his talents to compile a new dictionary, called The Great Passage.Partnering with Mitsuya are an elderly professor who is nearing retirement after devoting his life to studying the Japanese language and a callow young man who is slow to develop an appreciation for the challenging task ahead. Mitsuya’s love of language, however, leaves him speechless when he meets Kaguya (Aoi Miyazaki), his landlady’s granddaughter, who moves into his building and beguiles him with her obsession with cooking knives and fine cuisine. Mitsuya soon finds that the words he has studied his whole life are inadequate to express his true feelings for Kaguya.
Meanwhile, complications begin piling up as the dictionary department descends into chaos. Rising Japanese director Yuya Ishii (SAWAKO DECIDES, HIFF 2010) sets this gentle dramatic comedy in the 1990s, well before the Wild West attitude of Google and Wikipedia. THE GREAT PASSAGE is a kindhearted tribute to a time when the written word still contained an element of magic and romance.THE GREAT PASSAGE is Japan’s official contender for the Academy Award’s Best Foreign Film of 2013.