Tony Takitani | MIDNIGHTEYE

28/02/2011 Comments Off on Tony Takitani | MIDNIGHTEYE

Jun Ichikawa’s film version of one of Haruki Murakami’s most elegant short stories, Tony Takitani, somehow manages to redefine the whole process of literary adaptation, though with the same quiet, unassuming grace of the original story. Ichikawa visualises this character study of loneliness as a series of vignettes, ending each scene with a lateral wipe from right to left (except for the occasional, and effective use of fade to black), like the turning of a page.

This radical device serves to foreground the film’s literary source just as it finds a cinematic equivalent for it, something that can indeed be said of the film as a whole, which follows the source word-for-word, yet replaces each word with an image. Of course the overtly literary voice of the narrator remains, imparting Murakami’s prose with its characteristic intermixing of the prosaic and the poetic, yet he is constantly cut out by the characters, who finish his sentences or take over completely. This gentle tug-of-war between the narrator and his objects not only serves to further isolate them, but also emotionally distances the viewer. In a sense we are being forced to not only sympathise with Tony’s lonely world-view, but to actually adopt it in the process of watching the film. It’s a risky strategy that some will find moving and many more will find frustrating, yet it is precisely this uncompromising aesthetic that makes the film such an artistic success.



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