Monday, February 15, 2010

Tokyo Sonata

*Japan*2008*120m*Kiyoshi Kurosawa*

Ryuhei is an Administrative Manager who suddenly loses his job due to availability of cheaper employees from China. This is the beginning of a storm in this middle class family. He is unable to face his family with this news and continues to dress up and leave the house at the usual time, spending his time in long queues of job hunters or sitting in parks, and eating in a soup kitchen. He encounters a school mate in the same situation, who later resorts to a dire remedy. Ryuhei has to face the humiliation of a menial job. The drama is beautifully resolved and the family rediscovers a new dignity and happiness.

Not the least of the pleasures of the film was the sights and sounds of life in Tokyo and its suburbs: the undulating lanes, screaming trains, neat and cramped dwellings, and people not too different from elsewhere.It is like taking an aimless walk around the town with a person with nothing to do.

An enjoyable and informative film which deals deftly and delicately with universal problems of ordinary people in a capitalistic society, with the timely background of current economic realities. The younger of Ryuhei's two children is musically gifted and this is a point of convergence of the film. In fact the film has the lightness and refined harmony of the piano performance which concludes it.
Roger Ebert's review


Seongyong Cho said...

Rather than happiness, I think finale means some possibility of happiness for this collapsed family. They painfully realizes they can't keep on any more in off-the-wall third act. Denial, collapse, and then desperation... They hit the bottom and the family is like the ship nearly sunken. But there is hope and there will probably be new order for this family. The movie dexterously moves from dour situation to tiny but precious optimism with memorable finale I still remember well. It was marvelous.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's message is simple but subtle to audience, especially Japanese nuclear families: accept change or be sunken.

S. M. Rana said...

It's really beautiful that both Ryuhei and his family are able to accept the changed circumstances and even the dignity inherent in a cleaner's job. This triumph of the spirit makes the film so uplifting in it's conclusion. Your example of the sinking ship hitting rock bottom and rediscovering hope there is quite appropriate.

Plum said...

This reminds me a lot of the French Film Time Out (L'Emploi du Temps) it's really good it's also about a man who has been laid off but he can't tell his family so he keeps going to work. My mum likes it alot.

Don't Be a Plum

Literary Dreamer said...

It's on my list! :-) I should recommend it to my Japanese Meetup Group, as we sometimes have movie nights.

Nick Duval said...

I like this review, especially the second paragraph, which is very nice and very true.