05 March 2009

Tokyo Sonata

Directed by: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Written by: Sachiko Tanaka & Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Full credits from IMDb

Grade: 5/5

Some movies spend their stint on the festival circuit growing stale. But Tokyo Sonata, which screened last May at Cannes and last October at the New York Film Festival, has only gotten timelier along its journey; its limited theatrical run now lands, serendipitously, in the midst of the worst economic climate in generations. The film examines various systems’ mechanisms of dissolution — how families disintegrate, how violence spreads, how systems fail together. At its forefront, though, is the collapse of an economy. As the film opens, RyĆ»hei (Teruyuki Kagawa), husband, father and administrator, loses his job to outsourcing; he subsequently spends his days choking down free meals with hobos and keeping his unemployment a secret from the wife and kids. This might sound tired: Laurent Cantet studied a similar situation in 2001’s Time Out; The Simpsons did it in 2007. But director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no relation to Akira) uses the scenario to explore issues beyond the pressures of joblessness.

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