Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Original Title: Tonî Takitani
Japan, 2004. Breath, Wilco Co.. Screenplay by Jun Ichikawa, based on the short story by Haruki Murakami. Cinematography by Taishi Hirokawa. Produced by Naoki Hashimoto, Motoki Ishida. Music by Ryûichi Sakamoto. Production Design by Yoshikazu Ichida. Film Editing by Tomoh Sanjo. Independent Spirit Awards 2005.
Jun Ichikawa adapts a Haruki Murakami story into a very straightforward romantic film, in which both Issei Ogata and Rie Miyazawa do double duty in two roles each. Ogata plays the title character and his father in flashbacks, a jazz musician and lover of American culture who gives his son the English name Tony but spends little time with him in his formative years. Tony isn’t socially successful, most of the other kids find him odd and avoid him, but he discovers a love for drawing that sees him become a successful industrial graphic artist as an adult. Despite his general social isolation, he meets a woman with whom he falls in love, but once married to her realizes that she has a rather imposing flaw, she loves to shop for couture clothing and amasses it with a compulsion that threatens to ruin him financially. His attempt to do something about it has a devastating effect on their relationship and on his future, which leads to a relationship with another woman who resembles her. Both this plot and the one that Lee Chang-Dong later used for his Murakami adaptation, Burning, have elements of Vertigo-like obsession by a desperate man for an aloof woman, but Ichikawa avoids any of the noir-ish suggestions of the narrative and plays it without irony, presenting a melancholy drama that leads to a sad ending, laced appropriately (and somewhat artlessly) by Ryuichi Sakamoto’s on-the-nose twinkly music on the keyboard. It’s not a bad movie, the performances are all stalwart and it keeps its tone even, but if you need your films to be more thought-provoking beneath the surface, you might want to skip it.