Films & Schedules

  • Tokyo Sonata

  • Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Japan/The Netherlands/Hong Kong, China
119 minutes

Production Company:
Entertainment Farm/Fortissimo Films/ Hakuhodo Dy Media Partners/PIX
Executive Producer:
Yasushi Kotani, Michael J. Werner
Yukie Kito, Wouter Barendrecht
Max Mannix, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Sachiko Tanaka
Production Designer:
Tomoyuki Maruo, Tomoe Matsumoto
Akiko Ashizawa
Koichi Takahashi
Masayuki Iwakura
Kazumasa Hashimoto
Principal Cast: Teruyuki Kagawa, Kyoko Koizumi, Haruka Igawa, Yu Koyanagi, Kai Inowaki

Canadian Distributor:
International Sales Agent:
Fortissimo Films

TIFF Tags: Asia  Family  Poverty 

Tuesday September 0905:30PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 1 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 1107:15PM ISABEL BADER THEATRE Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1202:15PM AMC 7 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Tokyo Sonata is the latest invention of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's generous artistic soul, and an archetypal product of a powerful cinema prone to investigating the borders between the visible and the invisible. Straying from the trendy J-horror genre, the master of Japanese chills ventures into family drama, territory that carries a different dark suspense.

Loyal salaryman Ryuhei Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) loses his job when his company begins outsourcing to China. Incapable of facing the tragedy of his new reality, he hides his failure from his family and, weaving an intricate web of lies, pretends to have kept his job. As it turns out, he is not alone in this deception. At home, he tries to maintain the normal routine, though it soon becomes clear that this family has tragically lost touch with one another. His wife Megumi (Kyoko Koizumi) attends to her chores and keeps up with their two boys, rebellious college-age Takashi (Yu Koyanagi) and quiet, younger Kenji (Kai Inowaki). However, nothing feels or looks the same for Ryuhei, who has lost his honour and his place in society. Kenji's simple request for extra money to take piano lessons however tips the balance of their artificially sustained family stability, pushing it over a ruinous precipice of unforeseeable external events.

Kurosawa's quiet, elegant di2rection guides his actors – especially Koizumi and Kagawa – to outstanding performances. As a wife left starving for affection and contact, Koizumi is devastating, and she never exploits the natural pathos of her character's plight. At the same time, Kurosawa puts his own stamp on the domestic drama genre. The family is ordinary, but the narrative takes unusual turns. The mise-en-scène lends an eerie mood. Overall, the effect is of a poignant reflection on a kind of mass uncertainty sweeping Japan.

Giovanna Fulvi

Kiyoshi Kurosawa was born in Kobe, Japan, and studied sociology at Rikkyo University. He studied the art of filmmaking under Kazuhiko Hasegawa and Shinji Somai. He made his directorial feature debut in 1983 with Kandagawa Wars, and won a Sundance Institute Scholarship in 1992 for his original screenplay Charisma. Kurosawa was the featured director in the Festival's Spotlight programme in 1999. His films include The Excitement of the Do-Re-Mi-Fa Girl (85), Eyes of the Spider (97), Serpent's Path (97), Cure (98), License to Live (99), Barren Illusion (99), Charisma (99), Séance (00), Pulse (01), Bright Future (03), Doppelganger (03), Loft (05), Retribution (06) and Tokyo Sonata (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award