White on Rice is a comedy about Jimmy (Hiroshi Watanabe), a naive but adorable 40-year-old divorcé who moves to America to stay with his sister Aiko (Nae). His disgruntled brother-in-law, Tak (Mio Takada), isn’t happy about the situation, but Jimmy’s new bunkmate – his 10-year-old nephew, Bob – provides some wise advice and moral support.
Jimmy loves dinosaurs and geology, his lifetime achievements include being an extra in a samurai movie, and his goal is simply to find a new wife, someone better than his ex-wife.
When he falls desperately in love with Ramona (Lynn Chen), who is Tak’s niece and the girlfriend of co-worker Tim (James Kyson Lee), things begin to go horribly wrong. Vowing to win her love, Jimmy tries a series of clumsy romance tactics that eventually backfire on him and compromise his family’s well-being.
This hilarious and heartwarming story about a Japanese-American family was shot in Salt Lake City, Utah, and features great performances by a popular cast, which includes Japanese Academy Award-winner Nae and James Kyson Lee, who plays Ando in the TV series Heroes. White on Rice is a speculative autobiography that plays on director Boyle’s fears of being unemployed and incompetent. Jimmy’s character was written specifically for the lead, Hiroshi Watanabe, who actually played in a memorable comic scene opposite Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai. Boyle describes him as “an extraordinarily gifted actor and a naturally funny guy.”
– Heather Keung