Tokyo Sonata (トウキョウソナタ in Japanese, written in Katakana) is a film released in 2008 directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
It is world-wide known through the numerous prices it won:
- Best Film at the 3rd Asian Film Awards
- Award “Un Certain Regard” (a certain sight) from Cannes Festival 2008
- And a couple of nominations
Tokyo Sonata is about a middle class family living in Tokyo, the Sasaki. The family has four members:
- Ryûhei Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) the famoly head, a Japanese salaryman
- his wife Megumi (Kyoko Koizumi), devoted housewife, taking carre of everybody’s daily file
- Takashi (Yu Koyanagi), the elder son, a university student
- Kenji (Kai Inowaki), the younger son, a middle school student.
The plot of this movie is focused on the crisis each character is going through all the problems they are facing.
The elements affecting one character has also effects on another one, this movie looks something like a butterfly effect.
After this analysis digression… A little bit more about the story.
Ryuhei, the father, is a “traditional” Japanese salaryman, white shirt, back jacket and black shoes as you can see everyday in Tokyo. He works for his company as a Seishain (permanent employee) and has a good income. One day he is fired because Chinese workers are far cheaper than him. While attempting to find a new job, Ryuhei encounters an old classmate on the street close to a place where meals are being distributed for homeless people. Kurosu (Kanji Tsuda), who has also been fired recently. Kurosu uses a feature on his mobile phone that plays the ring tone periodically, so that it may fool others into believing he’s still employed. Ryuhei doesn’t understand why he does that and is intrigated by this, so he decides to hide to his family that he has been fired. Without telling anything, Ryuhei goes to a lot of troubles, for example he finds a new job. There he finds in an envelop a lot of money, and becomes crazy, trying to escape to a place where he could use this money in liberty.
A couple of words about Megumi Sasaki, the mother. When Ryuhei is fired, she doesn’t notice anything the first couple of days. But she slowly understands the reality…
Strange things also happen to her. One day, while alone at home, she is taken hostage by an unemployed man who broke into her house, aiming for money. This guy got fired and didn’t know what to do to survive, it was his first robbery act. They escape from the Sasaki’s house, and on the way to escape, something happened that made Megumi want to escape far away from the robbery. Once again, it is not the point to tell what is happening to her in details, you had better have a look at the movie.
And so she escapes from her tiring daily life.
About the elder son, Takashi is a university student in the twenties. He is the typical image of the lost human in the twenties looking for his identity. He makes his parents believe that he goes studying everyday while he spends his time wit his friends or working on hourly-based small works, such as distributing tissue paper on the street. Looking for his way, he joins the American military forces where he is deployed to Irak.
The youngest son, Kenji, is a mysterious character. One day he discovers a strong interest for piano lessons, and begins to take lessons. He quickly develops a strong bound with his piano teacher, Mrs Kaneko. Kenji is extremely talented in piano, his Kaneko even thinks Kenji is a kind of prodigy! However, deciding to pay those piano lessons with his lunch money, his mother soon discovers that his is taking music lessons without the authorization of his family. Megumi is supportive to the children while Ryuhei gets furious when he learns that, even making a minor injury on Kenji.
The same night, all the characters go through a lot of different adventure. For a Japanese family in complete deconstruction, is the blood bound more important than the personal ambitions? You can just know that if you look at this movie!
Tokyo Sonata presents a particular family that is very representative to the Japanese environment just after the economical bubble explosion at the beginning of the nineties. At this moment, Japan was flouring and everybody was having a nice life, being enthusiastic and optimistic about their future. Tokyo Sonata is an exaggerated image of what would happen to a family if all the members were facing events that would definitely change their life at the same time by crazy choices made instantly. It is a representation of what people would like to do without doing it.
That is why… You have to love it. If you are wondering what would happen to a family literally being destroyed to small pieces due to external events, or more simply you just want to have fun for two hours, you have to watch it. It is a strong recommendation.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa has made Tokyo Sonata so as that at each moment you will try to imagine what will happen to each character. Tokyo Sonata makes you think, and it thinks for you by delivering series of causes and consequence that lead to an end that is not said here.
But for sure you will think: “What the hell happened now?!”
Note: At the end, have a look at the latest seconds of the movie, it could explain more what happened to you during two hours.