Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, Tony Takitani is a dreamlike and evocative meditation on loneliness. Left to bring himself up by his touring musician father, Tony's solitude lasts well into middle age, when he suddenly falls for and marries the fashion-obsessed Eiko. When she dies in a car accident, however, her roomful of clothes become a mausoleum for his shortlived happiness. Muted and idiosyncratic, Jun Ichikawa's film is nonetheless an exquisite work.
It feels captivatingly like a short story, and very much a Murakami one. The camera flows relentlessly from left to right, changing scene and season, echoing turning pages as Tony's life story plays out. The stately photography in neutral colours, the plaintive piano theme; almost everything about this film is minimalist. Only two actors fill the four main roles; Issei Ogata shines as both Tony and his father, while Rie Miyazawa plays both Eiko and Hisako, the girl that Tony, in his grief, hires to impersonate his wife after her death. There is barely a word of dialogue - the carefully chosen details are delivered instead via a low-key narrator (Hidetoshi Nishijima) whose sentences are occasionally left to the characters to finish.
Tony Takitani's 75-minute running time is far from packed, and its revelations and satires are subtle sometimes to the point of invisibility. But allow yourself to be absorbed into its curious rhythms and it will move and reward you long after the lights come up.