Monday, 26 March 2018

Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue

Is there a name for this genre of film? Lovelorn, confused and underpaid people struggle through their twenties in carefully framed shots of big city life accompanied by a well-chosen indie rock soundtrack. There must be. I've seen so many. This one, however, is one of the best. Even after just twenty minutes, I sat there and thought to myself "This film is brilliant."

The film is from Yuya Ishii, the same director as Sawako Decides, and it shares some of the same qualities. A slow dreamlike story progression and a deadpan, almost undetectable, sense of humour. The two films also concern themselves with characters who are psychologically off-centre. Embarrassed that they even exist, their attempts at reaching out are often clumsy and self-defeating.

The cast is brilliant. From the two lead roles right down to sniggering staff at a cheap late night restaurant, there isn't a bad performance among them. The main female character is a great performance from Shikuka Ishibashi and the male lead, Sosuke Ikematsu, is excellent. Likable enough that his air of defeatism doesn't become insufferable and he keeps you on his side.

The photography is very fine. Understated but classy. Like a fine white wine (I'm writing this in a pub. Can you tell?). Tokyo has been photographed to death, but it still looks vibrant and new here.

Finally, and I only discovered this after watching, the dialogue has an unusual source: the poetry of Tahi Saihate. This explains the sometimes florid use of language in the voice overs, but it definitely gives the film a distinct character. The poet in question hasn't been translated into English yet, so hats off to the translator for dealing with it so well (although someone needs to tell them that "... Not." hasn't been used as a way of being sarcastic since about 2002).

I was delighted to find this film and I had that feeling afterwards as if you'd just done something good for yourself, like exercise or reading a newspaper.

A fragile and slightly awkward gem.

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