Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Adrift in Tokyo

Satoshi Miki | 2007 | 101 mins | Japan

Takemura (Jô Odagiri) is a wild-haired slacker, drifting aimlessly through life, without plans, ambitions, and seemingly without even family or friends. He also owes 800,000 yen (that's about 10 grand Canadian, for the local readers), an unfortunate fact that brings a burly debt collector named Fukuhara (Tomokazu Miura) to his door. The debt collector wrestles him to the ground, stuffs a sock into his mouth and gives him a three day deadline.

Things look pretty bleak for Takemura until the debt collector returns two days later with an unusual proposition. All the young man has to do is take a walk with him, and he'll pay him enough money to erase the debt. The catch is, he's got to walk through Tokyo wherever and for as long as Fukuhara demands. Takemura is understandably leery, but really, even a too-good-to-be-true proposition is better than the unpleasant alternative (uh, more socks in the face?).

The rest of the story unfolds as a subtle love letter to Tokyo as the two men embark upon their long and fateful walk. Slowly, Fukuhara's motivations for the journey are revealed as the two men visit places in the city that hold memories and meanings for him. The unusual adventure slowly transforms the adversaries into friends as they literally drift through the busy city streets.

By placing his two quirky and compelling leads into unusual circumstances peppered with hilariously cliché movie moments (riding a rollercoaster like a teenage couple on a date, for example) and goofy digressions (a psychedelic jam on the sidewalk), Satoshi Miki gives Takemura and Fukuhara the breathing room they need to bloom as characters and deliver the emotional payload the film promises.

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