Film #170: TOKYO SONATA
3 out of 5 stars
Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa is best known for his J-Horror films such as RETRIBUTION, DOPPELGANGER, PULSE, CURE and the exquisite SÉANCE. With TOKYO SONATA, he ventures into different territory with mixed results. SONATA goes a long way in showing the dynamic of the Japanese family and sheds a bit of light on their day-to-day economic structure. However, about 2/3 of the way through, the narrative drifts off course into ground more darkly comedic (and borderline absurd) only to try to sew things up at the very ending. Performances are mixed with Teruyuki Kagawa giving a terrific performance as the father and Kyoko Koizumi acting in a more subdued (but totally heartbreaking) manner. It is the kids who fall short with the youngest obviously being cast not for his acting chops but rather for his piano playing abilities (beautifully evident at the end). Still… TOKYO SONATA is a major step forward for Kurosawa and shows a HUGE leap forward in his storytelling ability. The pace may be too slow for Western audiences, but Japanese cinema fans will enjoy this. A good film, but not a GREAT film, but still well worth seeing.