Release Date: July 29th, 2005 (NYC-Angelika Film Center) by Strand Releasing.
The Cast: Issey Ogata, Rie Miyazawa.
Directed by Jun Ichikawa.
In Japanese with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: When Tony Takitani (Ogata) asks his wife (Miyazawa) to stop obsessively buying designer clothes, tragedy unfolds.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The plot is very bizarre and unpredictable with has mixed results. Tony has a very lonely childhood and ends up with a beautiful wife later in life. All-of-a-sudden, he loses her, and ends up lonely again. His wife has a problem with buy clothes that is far worse than Imelda Marcos' crazy obsession with collecting shoes. Basically, Tony and his wife the opposite: his wife is an extrovert while Tony, using his artistic skills as an illustrator, is basically an introvert. How they met and why they are attracted to one another is not very clear. What is clear is that no matter what stage Tony is in his life, he encounters problems that he cannot escape from. The musical score appropriately sets the melancholic tone throughout the film. However, what drags the film down is the often slow pacing. This film is based on a short story, but even at 75 minutes, it still drags. The cinematography is very good, especially during the opening scenes. The acting is decent without any scenes with a strong performance that is worth mentioning. The plot does have a few surprises in the last half-hour, but it is not enough to be engaging without any humor or wit. The plot could have also used more characters--as it is, only mainly interacts with his wife, but just barely. More conflicts would have simply helped to make this film more engaging.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: It is difficult to make a film about a loner without any social criticism. However, this film does not say much about society other than how dangerous it is to be attached to things, just like Tony's wife is obsessed with clothes. Anything that is done to the extreme is never healthy for the mind or body. It is somewhat interesting that Tony's loneliness comes back to haunt him full-circle. Just when he thought he got over it from his childhood, he ends up with it later in his life. This film pretty much shows you that not everybody's life is full of joy. No matter how hard Tony tries to bring his life to stability, he simply has no control over it because of something underrated, yet very powerful: memories.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough tension/conflicts.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 4
THE BOTTOM LINE: A beautifully-shot yet depressing film with a bizarre and unpredictable plot that is ultimately weak without enough conflicts and very slow pacing. Ghost World is by far a superior film that share a lot of the same themes, but it is presented in a much more entertaining way--it's about a lonely girl who is also an illustrator, although she doesn't know it yet.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)
The "T" Menu