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  • Award Snub: Despite getting lots of attention and buzz for the role, Rinko Kikuchi ended up missing most of the awards in the main circuit and ultimately lost the Oscar to Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls, a decision which can still lead to some vicious film forum arguments.
  • Awesome Music: The film's affecting score is one of the best-remembered parts of the movie and was responsible for its sole win at the Oscars.
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  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Chieko. She's the least connected to the main plot, but critics were talking about Rinko Kikuchi's Oscar chances the instant the movie came out.
  • Fridge Brilliance:
    • Chieko probably lied on purpose about how her mother died to toss any blame away from her father about the incident in Morroco while indicating she planned to kill herself at the same time.
    • Yasujiro giving his rifle to Hassan may seem asinine when you consider what it leads to, but also take into consideration that he probably did it because he didn't want the gun after what happened with his wife killing herself with one.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • Chieko makes a last desperate attempt at becoming intimate with a man by taking her clothes off and making sexual advances on a policeman in her home, but he understandably freaks out at her behavior along with her being a minor. Chieko is devastated at being rejected again and starts sobbing and clutching her chest. It's a heartbreaking moment, but it's mitigated somewhat when the policeman realizes her suffering and gives her a Cool Down Hug.
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    • While Amelia does get deported, who knows? Maybe her son and daughter-in-law will end up having kids and she'll get to relive her days as a babysitter, but as a grandmother!
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Tear Jerker:
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    • This goes hand-in-hand with Oscar Bait movies. The exceptionally sad scenes all involve the deaf Japanese girl struggling with coming of age and her maturing sexuality.
    • Though she arguably brought it on herself, Amelia breaking down in custody realizing she's going to get deported, knowing she won't get to see the children she adores again.
    • Richard desperately trying to get help for his wife in a country where he can't speak the native language, and eventually crying on the phone listening to his son talk about his day.
    • While Yasujiro doesn't suffer any consequences unlike the other 3 character, take the following into consideration; His wife killed herself with a gun, and he probably gave that gun away to avoid the same thing to happen ever again. But, as the events of the film occurred, Yasujiro gets confronted over what was meant to be an act of kindness towards his guide, and he'll no doubt learn about all that happened and will most likely be ridden with guilt for the rest of his life that his attempts to be nice lead to nothing but tragedy and shattered a family. Add this onto the fact that his daughter attempts suicide due to all the stress this brought upon her, and even though he'll probably suffer little consequences, he may never come to terms with how devastating his act was to many people and almost costed him the only family he has left.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: It's the case for many (but not all) characters. Obviously caused by the Idiot Plot.
  • The Woobie: The film was built on this. A devastated and unstable schoolgirl struggling with trauma from her mother's suicide and her desperation for sexual experience, along with her grieving father who is clearly worried about her; tourists grieving the loss of their infant son who suffer from a completely random act of violence; a father whose family is torn apart by a single purchase; and even with her stupid decision it's not hard to feel bad for the nanny searching desperately for help on the border with two small, exhausted, and frightened children.

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