Brittany Murphy in The Ramen Girl: Self-Love and Noodles

A few years ago, I had just left my agency job and looking for work. In the long-term, I wanted to work remotely, so I was avoiding full-time desk jobs. I reached out to various local businesses pitching myself and got a response from a local ramen shop.

So for almost six weeks during my transition to remote work, I was a ramen girl. To clarify: I never made ramen. I swept floors, took orders, bussed tables, and dabbled in some marketing and website work for them. But it was a blissful period in my life where I tried something new and different.

As a writer and self-proclaimed flaneur, I have a deep appreciation for stories where women find strength in the unknown. I love risks. I love adventure. I love the journey, both outward and inward. That’s why The Ramen Girl is one of my favorite movies.

The Ramen Girl via AsianWiki

The premise of The Ramen Girl is simple. Girl meets boy. Girl moves to Tokyo, Japan after boy gets a job there. Boy dumps girl and leaves her in Tokyo. Abby, played by the delightful, late Brittany Murphy, is stranded in a strange city. She doesn’t speak Japanese, she’s working in an entry-level role at a law firm, and besides two people she met through her ex, she doesn’t have any friends.

One night, she wanders into a local ramen shop and befriends the grumpy owner. Unbeknownst to both of them, they’re both seeking each other. Abby needs structure and discipline and Maezumi, played by Toshiyuki Nishida, needs to loosen up. Yin and yang.

There are changes I would have made to the plot, (I don’t think Abby needed a new love interest), but overall, The Ramen Girl is a great film. It’s a story about the seasons of life. When things seem to be ending, they’re actually beginning.

It’s a shame that this was Brittany Murphy’s last films because Murphy herself tried something new in this movie. Murphy, who was used to either being “crazy or cute” in films, had the opportunity to try a new character. In The Ramen Girl, Murphy could just be a version of herself, someone who was trying some unfamiliar.

via Medium

Very much like Murphy herself, Abby wasn’t taken seriously and because of that, she never took herself seriously. Until she found ramen. Ramen showed Abby that there was more to life than romantic love and more to her life than she believed. Ramen was the key that unlocked much-needed growth. Those are the best seasons of life, the ones that lead you down unpredictable paths to something new and exciting.

My ramen career was short-lived, but I still like to make myself a bowl of soup every once in a while. It’s a warm reminder of a time in my life where I wasn’t a marketer or a flaneur. A time where I took a risk, and did something different.

The Ramen Girl is available to stream for free on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

Melissa Randall is a nonfiction writer and essayist. Her stories on Medium often discuss travel, film, and personal life experiences.

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