Pete’s Peek | Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata


Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the director who made his name with the horror films Cure and Pulse, scores another triumph (and a Cannes Jury Prize award) with his new film, the recession-inspired family drama, Tokyo Sonata.

When Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa, last seen in 20th-Century Boys) is made redundant from his job at a large medical equipment company, his authority and honour in the family home is under threat. Shamed of being unemployed, he keeps his predicament a secret. Instead, he continues his life as normal, in a bid to get a new job, and spends his days in his office attire with a newly-found buddy (who has been pretending to go to work for months) at a park for down and outs.

But Sasaki hasn’t counted on his two sons wanting to forge futures of their own: one wants to join the US Army in a bid to escape Japan, the other has found a latent musical gift. What follows is every father’s nightmare: ‘What do you do when you are no longer the head of the family?’ This DVD is certainly no Father’s Day present.

Brilliantly performed by the ensemble of actors; with sublime direction and some of Kurosawa’s trademark chills (the lingering shots on the actors blank faces say so much), Tokyo Sonata is a poignant, unsettling look at the grim hopelessness of unemployment, the disintegration of a normal Japanese family, and the changing face of Japan itself.

The Eureka! DVD release, part of the Masters of Cinema series, includes a ‘making of’ documentary and a 28-page essay.

Released 22 June

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