Tokyo Sonata

"Extraordinary"

Tokyo Sonata Review


Starting out like a gentle family melodrama, this gorgeously made Japanese film morphs into something much darker as it progresses. And in both its economic premise and family observations, it couldn't be any timelier.

Ryuhei (Kagawa) manages a busy office and is so stunned when he's made redundant that he doesn't tell his wife Megumi (Koizumi). He pretends to go to work every day, hanging out near a homeless centre with an unemployed friend (Tsuda). Meanwhile, Megumi is battling her own inner demons, wishing her life wasn't so dull. And their sons have problems too: teen Takashi (Koyanagi) decides to join the US military in Iraq, while preteen Kenji (Inowaki) spends his lunch money on piano lessons, discovering that he's a prodigy.

Kurosawa opens with an Ozu-style shot of domestic tranquillity before unpeeling everything down to bare bone. It becomes a kind of kitchen sink horror film, as each character is pushed to the brink emotionally and physically. And what makes this film remarkable is the fact that they all travel this path on their own, too proud or afraid to reach out for any help, right to the achingly beautiful finale. This biting comment on modern society (not just Japan's) is thoroughly unnerving.

The cast members give strong, transparent performances that highlight hidden emotions. Even as the plot spirals into overwrought scenes of emotion, pain and fear, the film remains stately and cool. This matter-of-fact approach cleverly shows everyday situations warping into something extraordinary. Dreams of an unruffled, happy life vanish in a moment. Ryuhei wants just a shred of dignity, Megumi wishes she could wake up and be someone else, Kenji wants to do what he knows he should do, Takashi wants to control his destiny.

As everything is stripped away, each of them must find the strength to move forward. All of these things happen in beautifully staged scenes that resonate deeply. We know exactly what it's like to try to maintain some privacy and independence by hiding our true feelings. We also know that people are rather eerily more observant than we think they are. We can't hide as well as we'd like to. And in the end, we need each other to help put things back together.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 27th September 2008

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Distributed by: Regent Releasing

Production compaines: Django Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 79 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , Yukie Kito

Starring: as Ryuhei Sasaki, Kyôko Koizumi as Megumi Sasaki, Yû Koyanagi as Takashi Sasaki, Kai Inowaki as Kenji Sasaki

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.