Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Film Yap: Map of the Sounds of Tokyo

There’s a new film phrase I’m going to introduce in this review. It’s “The Greatest Character Ever.” That is what happens when a film creates one new character and is so impressed by them, all of the other characters are constantly talking about how deep/mysterious/fantastic they are. For the best example of this watch Get Low (or just the trailer even.)

Map of the Sounds of Tokyo falls into this trap as well as so many others. Rinko Kikuchi (Babel, The Brothers Bloom) plays Ryu, an incredibly interesting woman who is a hired assassin. The reason we know she is incredibly interesting is because there is periodic voice over telling us about all of the secrets she keeps and how deep she is. If only there was a way they could show and not tell this…

After several tangents, the story finally begins. Ryu is hired to kill David (Sergi Lopez), a Spainard who runs a wine shop. Instead of killing him, they have a flirting encounter, which leads to a date, which leads to several sex scenes. Now she is caught in the same moral quandary every single hitman faces when their target is the opposite sex.

It’s a very clichéd story and the only new parts of the movie are the randomness that fills the rest. Writer/director Isabel Coixet throws so many things into the movie, hoping some of them will stick. Yet it just makes the film feel even more uneven. There is plenty of odd things around the city of Tokyo like a flash mob that devotes each interaction to a basic emotion (lust, anger, etc.). What that has to do with this story is beyond anyone.

If the whole movie is built around this character study of Ryu, why not let Kikuchi be more front and center? She is a fantastic actress who has already been Oscar nominated at her young age. So many of her scenes keep her away from the camera, where you can’t see her face from that angle. Eventually the movie abandons the narrative and just focuses on a series of sex scenes between the leads. Each interaction doesn’t add anything to the characters that hasn’t already been established earlier so the pacing is destroyed.

Without adding anything new to the story, the movie just falls completely flat despite having Kikuchi in its arsenal. No, the title doesn’t make a lot of sense either.

The bonus features only include a dull 6 minute “Behind the Sounds” as well as two trailers for the film.

Film: 2 Yaps

Extras: 1.5 Yaps


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