The fate of Tony Takitani is being alone. During the Second World War, his father was lying helplessly on the floor of a military prison listening to the shots of executions coming from outside, whistling a silent jazz chant to beat his fear. Many years later, the prison is symbolic for his son: an empty white room without windows, a room which used to be a wardrobe of Tony’s dead wife. Tony lies there in the same position as his father. Just silence around him.
Tony has been alone since he was born. He studies fine arts, but his drawings shows no sign of artistic talent. Tony falls in love with a young woman, who has a strange passion for luxury clothes. They marry, they are happy, their house is full of dresses. The wife’s hunger for beautiful dresses grows; she is no longer able to suppress her passion for shopping, the dresses are there to fill her empty heart. Finally, her addiction becomes the cause of her tragic death. Later, Tony sells her dresses, and in the same way, after the death of his jazzman father, he sells all his precious jazz records, thinking that getting rid of things means also to forget and not to suffer anymore. Then he accepts the silent hell of solitude, and in the end, he loses, by accident, the last chance to find a new love.
The basis of the film is a short story by Haruki Murakami and it is directed by the experienced Jun Ichikawa. It is a little masterpiece, a beautiful and exact study of the roots and consequences of solitude, the longing for love and a soul confused by the Consumer Society. Ichikawa uses just three actors and a narration. His cold pictures are almost empty, light and silent. He has a wonderful minimalistic style, transforming every detail into poetry. In today1s world, the value of good films is often defined by their political engagement – which is necessary and understandable, but at the same time, it puts in danger the real values of cinematic language. Ichikawa goes back to the roots. All the elements of our contemporary world are present in his film, not as a declaration, but in order to serve his strong, simple and highly artistic idea of human loneliness.
© FIPRESCI 2004