Tokyo Sonata (Japan 2008, 120 min. dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, cast: Teruyuki Kagawa, Kyoko Koizumi, Yu Koyanagi, Kai Inowaki.
The world plunged into financial crises in 2008 but Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata was already a testament to what was about to happen. Released in 2008, the film follows one struggling Tokyo family from job loss to slow family disintegration.
Ryuhei (Teruyuki Kagawa) loses his white-collar job but cannot face his wife, Megumi (Kyoko Koizumi) with the news. Each day he dresses in a suit and tie for work and leaves home with his briefcase. She learns the truth when she sees him standing in a food line for free lunch at a local park along with other unemployed salary men.
Her eldest son, Takashi (Yu Koyanagi), finds his exit from the household by joining the American army under a new recruitment offer for Japanese. He’s promptly sent to the Middle East battlefields. The youngest son, Kenji (Kai Inowaki), observes all this while trying to sneak away and take piano lessons that the family cannot afford.
In the end, at his brilliant recital, there is at least hope for something; even though the family can not pay for the schooling he will need to realize his musical potential.
Though set in middle class Japan, there is a resonance to Where God Left His Shoes (MovieWithMe.com) because both films sketch the desperation that comes when there is no way out. The events of 2008 are still rolling over, receding slowly and revealing the debris like a retreating tsunami. Both films seem to ask, where do you go when there is nowhere left to go?