Eureka, Eureka, a GOOD FILM at Last!!!

7 Apr

Tokyo Sonata PosterIt is a shame that we are already into the second quarter of 2009 and there hasn’t been a worthwhile film release that has managed to capture anyone’s attention!

The other day I was one of those lucky days in which a rare film was released and even brought to my local theater, so I found myself rushing to my local art house venue to go see it before it was too late and it was taken away.  Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s—no relation to the great legendary filmmaker Akira Kurasawa—film called: Tokyo Sonata was indeed a marvel that didn’t falter at any time and traveled well beyond my expectations!

The film was a lyrical study of today’s Tokyo and its inhabitants. It immersed itself into the lives of an urban family going through the trials and tribulations of life in the 21st century.  It covered universal issues like the current economic crisis to which Tokyo is not susceptible to, a dysfunctional family who suffered from the lack of an essential ingredient, communication, war conflicts and local vandalism that leads to an eye-opening event that put one of the primary characters into full play.  The picture was painted very clear: it’s a shame to lose once job, so it’s important for the men not to be vulnerable and lose control at any time, particularly at home.  But with that picture comes the repercussions and this family’s central character brings scaring results that impact all.

The themes of family and the economy take a duel role that is hard to ignore. As Reyhan Harmanci, from the San Fracisco Chronicle writes: “Tokyo Sonata” tells the story of a troubled family. Ryuhei (played by Teruyuki Kagawa, who is also in the current release “Tokyo!” [and not nearly as good!]) is an administrator who gets downsized at the film’s start and cannot find a way to tell his wife, Megumi (in a lovely turn by Kyoko Koizumi). Their two sons, an 18-year-old named Takashi (Yu Koyanagi) and middle-school-age Kenji (Kai Inowaki), have their own, parallel struggles going on – Takashi is struggling to find a future as an adult, and Kenji starts sneaking piano lessons that his father, unaccountably, won’t support.

When Ryuhei runs into a high school friend who goes to extreme lengths to hide his unemployment (like setting his cell phone to ring several times an hour), he finds himself getting deeper and deeper in deception, increasing the distance between him and his wife. Kurosawa is fond of repeating scenes and mirroring his characters’ plights, as they all have much more in common than they realize. It comes to a head one night, as Ryuhei, too alienated from himself to even see the irony, violently punishes Kenji for sneaking around and using his lunch money for music classes (Friday, March 27, 2009).

Is Kenji’s mere innocence and hunger for learning something new and exciting what counter acts all of this family dysfunction and economic dilemma!  The power of the film’s final act is what makes it an incomparable experience that manages to take the audience to another level.  The language of music comes into play and completely takes over as a radiant ray of light piercing through the clouds showing us all that there is still hope in the world. Tokyo Sonata really plays its notes well and succeeds its message of forgiveness, discovery, hope and happiness.  I promise you, by the film’s end you will found yourself deeply moved!

The film is a true gem, so I urge you to rush to go see it the same way I did before it’s too late!

For a reason Tokyo Sonata has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it was highly regarded at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 winning the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize!

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tokyo_sonata

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0938341/

Full SF Chronicle Review: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/26/MVIB16K81T.DTL&type=movies

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