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Starring: Issei Ogata, Rie Miyazawa
Director: Jun Ichikawa
Rating: PG
Year Made: 2005








Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English & Chinese
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0
Running Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Comstar Entertainment




A simple, undemanding mechanical draftsman who lives a lonely existence meets a young and beautiful girl who he falls for her instantly, despite their 15-year age difference. He soon discovers that his new wife is a shopaholic who cannot stop buying clothing and when tragedy strikes, he is forced to look at his life in a whole different way.


While it appears that my trusted fellow columnist who reviewed this art house film during its theatrical release isn’t exactly its biggest fan, I’d choose to think that he did not really mean to bash the movie that badly.

You see, many people believe that the movie-going experience is only complete if there is a movie partner, and since he watched it in a theatre, it is only logical that he had someone watching the movie with him.

And for a film that deals with stark themes of loss and loneliness, I’d suppose that the depressing emptiness of the message behind it will be best felt when you watch it alone, preferably late at night, when there is not a single soul you can share your thoughts with.

Now, that is the kind of loneliness the titular character of this Japanese production probably felt all his life. And judging from his appearance, he sure looks like he had been suffering in silent solitude for the longest time.

The film’s runtime of 75 minutes may seem short, but it feels like a whole lifetime as the narrator would tell you (get ready for a really long list of events): how Tony grew up being shunned because of his western name, how his father never spent much time with him, how he became a technical illustrator with no feelings in his works, how he fell in love somebody 15 years younger, how he plucked up the courage to ask for her hand in marriage, how the girl buys an unimaginable amount of clothes, how she died in an accident, how Tony tries to find himself a replacement companion, and finally, how Tony’s life became empty again.

That story is worthy of one 30-episode television drama serial, if you ask me.

But director Jun Ichikawa does a decent job of translating Haruki Murakami’s widely-read novel onto the celluloid – in less than the typical one-and-a-half-hour movie duration.

The dullness is effectively reflected in the bland and boring shades of grey used in the film. The camera movement is as slow as the pace of the movie. Scenes take their time to transit, with the constant use of a tracking camera. The somewhat monotonous tinkling of piano keys that plays in the background feels like those pieces you’d hear in a lazy lounge on a sleepy afternoon. All these may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

While Rie Miyazawa has the easier task of playing the female lead, it is Issei Ogata I’d applaud for being able to portray one of the most cheer-less characters I’ve ever seen in a film.

Just as you’ve settled down with the fact that probably nothing exciting is going to happen in this man’s life, he becomes happy for the first time during his initial married days. But you also know tragedy will strike when he worries about how he is going to cope when loneliness ever again.

True enough, bad things happen to Tony, simply because the world was never fair to everyone.

When Tony goes back to his discouraged and downcast self, you would wonder whether it was a good thing to be blissful at all, knowing that the end of the day would still bring with it dejections and disappointments.

Like I mentioned in the beginning of this review, to truly understand this disheartening film, it is recommended that you watch it in isolation, and not with a big group of happy people.

That is why I’ve got a higher rating for this film than my trusted fellow columnist, as I’ve long ditched the ideal notion of having movie partners to watch movies with.


Cinematographer Taishi Hirokawa’s choice of dull and bland colours manages to feel sad and forlorn, thanks to the disc’s effective visual transfer. The audio can be heard on Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, with Ryuichi Sakamoto’s quiet score lingering in the background.


No extra features are included in this Code 3 DVD. What did you expect - a crash course on how to deal with loneliness?



Review by John Li



Alternative Opinion:

The movie review by our columnist

Other titles from Comstar:

. Sex & Philosophy

. Factotum

. Me And You And Everyone We Know

. Lemming

. Adam's Apple

. Crazy

. Invisible Waves

. Paradise Now

. She's The Man

. Russian Dolls

. Beyond The Sea

. Kursk

. Voice

. The Last Communist

. Jasmine Women

. Running Wild

. You are my Sunshine

. My Girl & I

. Half Light

. Mur (The Wall)

. Mrs Henderson Presents

. Hidden

. The Descent

. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

. A Season for Love

. Horror Theater Series 2

. Horror Theater Series I

. Capturing the Friedmans

. The Wig

. A Wicked Tale

. As It Is In Heaven

. When I Turned 9



This review is made possible with the kind support from Comstar


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