Map of the Sounds of Tokyo (2009)

ISABEL COIXET

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BSpain, 2009, Screenplay by Isabel CoixetCinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by Cannes Film Festival 2009.

Sergi Lopez and Rinko Kikuchi in Map of the Sounds of Tokyo.

In the opening scene of this movie, a Tokyo businessman laments the fact that in order to maintain good relations with visiting Americans, he must uphold the ridiculous ideas that westerners have about the Japanese; in this case he is serving sushi off the bodies of naked models who are lying on restaurant tables.  Director Isabel Coixet opens with this commentary almost as a way to excuse her own outsider indulgences in this ridiculous film, though her obsession with the mysterious beauty of Tokyo is wholly understandable even at its most exploitative.  The main plot concerns the aforementioned gentleman getting a phone call that his daughter has committed suicide, and in his grief he blames her emotionally estranged Spanish boyfriend () for the deed.  He has his assistant seek out a paid assassin who moonlights as a labourerer at an all-night fish market () and pays her to kill Lopez, but she ends up in an obsessive sexual relationship with him instead.  There are moments of intensity and beauty but for the most part this film is preposterous when it isn’t being completely vapid, and in her determination to come up with unforgettable images, Coixet forgets to actually create a story whose characters are drawn to each other in any reasonable or recognizable way. The side of Kikuchi’s character who is a gun for hire is never in the least bit convincing, while the screenplay feels like it is selecting the plot’s next movement of the plot at random and never forms a cohesive whole.

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