Home > 2009 Movie Reviews > Tokyo! Review

Tokyo! Review

My rating 4.5 Stars

Tokyo! is a collaboration between three non Japanese directors: Michel Gondry, who directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Léos Carax, a French director; and Bong Joon-ho a Korean director known for The Host. Each director created one short story that had no real connection with each other. The only thing they did have in common was that each story took place in Tokyo, Japan.

This Japanese movie was filmed in 2008 and was shown in very limited release here in the States in 2009. The movie played in 18 theaters at its widest release. Of course, the movie did much better abroad that it did here in the States. That is too bad, because the movie was very interesting, although, I can see why the American audience did not like it.

Since this movie is broken into three separate short stories, I will break my review into three parts and review each one separately:

Interior Design 3.5 Stars

Tokyo!: Interior Design

Ayako Fujitani and Ryo Kase

This is the first story in this film. It is a about a young couple, Hiroko and Akira, who are just starting out their lives. Akira is an amateur filmmaker. They decide to move to Tokyo in order to make it big. The story starts out with both Hiroko and Akira driving into the city. In my opinion this was a great introduction to this film, because it introduces the audience to the city, very well done.

Hiroko has a friend in the city. She was kind enough to let them stay at her place while they looked for place to live. However, Hiroko and Akira had very little money, so they could not afford any apartment in the city. Instead they were forced to stay with Hiroko’s friend, who eventually got tired of them living in her apartment.

The story is very moving and the acting is very well done. The ending is a little out of the ordinary. However it was very surprising and very, very cool. Let’s just say that I have never seen anything like it before.

Merde 4.0 Stars

Tokyo!: Merde

Denis Lavant

The second story in the collection changes gears a little. One might even go as far as to compare it to a Twilight Zone episode. This one was about a sewer troll that somehow makes his way to Tokyo and starts to terrorize the people of the city. The troll is really just a regular looking guy, but he was creepy, very creepy. I really like how they did this. There was really nothing to him, nothing really special at all, but somehow they managed to make him grotesque and vile. It wasn’t so much the solid green outfit, or the odd beard, or the messy hair, or the bad teeth and nails, it was his mannerism and his demeanor that made him so different than anyone else.

The troll would come out of the sewers and spend like a minute or two on the outside to get food and terrorize people. The first time you see him, he’s kind of comical, but then it gets more serious and freakier. The troll steals things from people as he walks by them, pushes old people to the ground, makes kids cry.  The second time he came out of the sewers, he was more frightening, and he went on a killing rampage, using old WWII hand-grenades to randomly kill civilians.

Eventually the troll is caught. They realize that he speaks a strange language that no one has heard of before. Back in France, a lawyer learns about the troll on the news and decides to contact Tokyo claiming that even though he has never met the troll, he can communicate with him. He then becomes the creature’s lawyer. After all, the troll was on trial for his life, he was going to need all the help he could get.

The court room drama was very cool. The French lawyer who knew how to communicate with this troll spoke no Japanese, so when something was being communicated to the troll they would speak to the translator, who would then speak to the lawyer, who would then speak to the troll and back again. I found this extremely fascinating. I have never seen this done before, I imagine that people thought that it wouldn’t make for good drama, I disagree, I thought it worked well and it even added to the drama by making it more intense.

The story is definitely an odd ball, but it was very well done and acted. It was nice to see something different, but entertaining as well.

Shaking Tokyo 4.5 Stars

Tokyo!: Shaking Tokyo

Teruyuki Kagawa

This was third and last short story.  This was a simple story, but powerful at the same time. It was my very favorite because it hit a little close to home at times. It was about a man who one day decided to stay home and not go out for the night. The next thing he knew he hadn’t left the house in 11 years. I have never done anything like that, but I can understand not wanting to go out sometimes.

As to how he shopped for food and essentials, he explains to the audience that everyone delivers in Tokyo, so there was never any reason to leave the house ever, not even for groceries.

The man hated looking people in the eyes—therefore he never looked at anyone. He hated touching people and hated when people touched him. So he stayed home and lived there by himself with a serious case of OCD. His house was decorated perfectly and symmetrically with pizza boxes and rolls of toilet paper flawlessly aligned. His life consisted of reading, eating, falling asleep on the toilet and mourning the death of his father. He was also miserable, but he was comfortable being miserable. Sometimes it’s just easier staying miserable than to change things. Change can be really scary to some people.

Then one day, by mistake, he looked up and made eye contact with the pizza delivery girl and he felt something he had never felt before. The feeling scared him, but it also moved him, but mostly he was confused by it. He didn’t know what to do or how to act. He had avoided people for so long and now there was a beautiful woman right in front of him who actually dug him and he had no clue what to do.

These are short stories with hardly any plot to them. What made them interesting is that they featured strong performances and distinctive topics. I enjoyed each of them very much, they were very entertaining. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary to watch, I recommend this movie.

Categories: 2009 Movie Reviews
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