Tony Takitani (2005) I'm normally not the biggest fan of movies conceived as tone poems, but Tony Takitani is a rare exception. It's a quiet dream of a… 2005-07-29 PT75M Drama Foreign Language Issey Ogata Miyazawa Rie Strand Releasing
Movie Review

Tony Takitani (2005)

Rie Miyazawa, Tony Takitani | CAN'T EAT… CHOKING A lovely Japanese elegy that haunts without horror Takitani
CAN'T EAT… CHOKING A lovely Japanese elegy that haunts without horror Takitani
EW's GRADE
A

Details Limited Release: Jul 29, 2005; Length: 75 Minutes; Genres: Drama, Foreign Language; With: Issey Ogata; Distributor: Strand Releasing

I'm normally not the biggest fan of movies conceived as tone poems, but Tony Takitani is a rare exception. It's a quiet dream of a movie, a vision of loneliness giving way to love, then to loneliness again; it's like Vertigo remade in a sedately haunted style of Japanese lyricism.

Adapting a short story by Haruki Murakami, the director, Jun Ichikawa, has evolved a technique, a mood, of visual meditation that's at once literary and startlingly cinematic. For much of the film's 75 minutes, Ichikawa moves his camera slowly, almost imperceptibly, from left to right, tracking like a voyeur through key moments in the life of Tony Takitani (Issey Ogata), a pensive illustrator who has drifted into middle age without a lasting human connection.

As Ryuichi Sakamoto's lilting piano chords caress our eardrums, Tony, with his unusual gaze of silent sadness (he suggests a morose Jackie Chan crossed with Tommy Hilfiger), meets Eiko (Rie Miyazawa), who is sweet and beautiful and 15 years his junior. He embraces her as a path out of his isolation, and the movie becomes a vision of contentment. There's one issue, though, with Tony's object of affection: She's obsessed, to the point of addiction, with shopping for designer clothes. That sounds like a joke, a caricature of marital foible, yet as it balloons, with a nearly psychic sense of fate, into romantic tragedy, Tony becomes every man who ever killed his chance for love without knowing that he was doing it.

Originally posted Aug 02, 2005 Published in issue #833 Aug 12, 2005 Order article reprints