Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Tony Takitani is a little gem of movie.  Beautifully framed and photographed, acted with understated elegance, wonderfully scored and mercifully brief, this is a small quiet film that hits all of the right notes.


Tony Takitani (Issei Ogata), even from childhood has spent the majority of his life alone.  His mother died soon after he was born and his father, a jazz trombonist, spent the majority of Tony’s life pursuing his passion.  Named after an American Army officer, Tony’s father thought that the American name would make Tony special, when all it did was distance him from his natively christened peers.  As Tony enters adulthood, everything in his life from how he lives, to his career as a graphic artist is centered on being alone.  And it would appear that Tony is very comfortable being by himself, until a breeze delivers Hisako Konuma (Rie Miyazawa) to his office.  Hisako is beautiful, witty, smart and impeccably dressed.  To a fault it would seem. 


Though 15 years his junior, Hisako falls in love with Tony as well and the two marry.  Tony’s love for Hisako is so great and complete that the thought of being alone again petrifies him.  Tragedy, sadly, places Tony back into an all too familiar place. 

Taken from a short story by famed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, Director Jun Ichikawa’s constantly moving camera perfectly captures the essence of Tony’s life.  A life that starts out simply being alone, but ends up in loneliness.  Ryuichi Sakamoto’s perfectly integrated, but unobtrusive score paints the edges of Ichikawa’s pictures giving them more depth and meaning.  The story is driven by the clever narration of

Hidetoshi Nishijima who often has his narrative thoughts completed by the characters on the screen.  I’ve often said that movies are about actors.  All of the clever direction, music, and special effects will be lost if the actors on the screen can’t deliver the film.  This particular movie will rise or fall on the character of Toni Takitani, and Issei Ogata carries the character to new heights.  Not once does his characterization of Tony make one feel the contrivance of pity or sadness.  He simply lays out the life of a man who has found little use for people in general.  Contrast that to the life of a man in love and his change is completely plausible and believable.  Parallel that with Tony’s life at the beginning of the film, to Tony’s life at the end and though the character at different points in time is in the same situation, the change in the man himself is remarkably different.  Better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all?  Indeed.  It takes an actor of great skill execute these changes in emotion subtlety, and not wild mood swings and uncharacteristic changes in behavior.  At the same time never straying from Tony’s quiet core, but convincing the viewer of his delicate fragility nonetheless. 


Clocking at a scant 75 minutes in length, Ichikawa probably could have easily padded the film, but somehow the length seemed just right.  The movie wasn't boring in the least, but it did seem I spent more than an hour and fifteen minutes with Tony.  Again, I think different viewers will get different feelings from watching this film, and a repeated viewing would certainly be encouraged.  Tony Takitani is that rare quiet independent film that has more to say in its silence than similar films could relay in chapters of verse.  


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