Tokyo Sonata is a domestic drama from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a director who has made his name in the horror genre with the likes of Kairo and Bright Future. This film then is a marked departure for him but it is also unlike most titles in Japanese cinema that I’ve seen on international home video release. Its quietly powerful realism and topical themes make it, for me, one of the most important Japanese films of recent years.
If there’s one thing I find fascinating about contemporary Japan it’s the presence of contrasts that are baffling to an outside first-time visitor. This has been heightened in the past decade or two by fundamental changes that are inexorably altering the society’s status quo, so the ramifications for its defining features of harmony, tradition and smooth routine are quite striking.