Son of a jazz musician who was once a prisoner of war, Tony Takitani (Issey Ogata) seems bound to some determinist agenda way beyond his control. Though the narrator of the story pronounces his name as if he were a god, Takitani’s life is not only mundane but seemingly forgettable, a paradox director Jun Ichikawa may be hoping to impart. A technical illustrator who marries a woman obsessed with designer clothes and who attempts to replace her with another woman after her death, Takitani seems inextricably bound to the film’s intense forward momentum: Like some creeping wave that flows but never ebbs, Tony Takitani‘s signature aesthetic gambit consists of Ichikawa’s camera roving from left to right across the story’s action as if on a horizontal timeline. Much of the story takes place in the past and there’s a sense that the lens might at some point move away from its titular character, if not necessarily after its intense few minutes then maybe after the omniscient narrator’s recollection of Takitani’s past has caught up with the man’s present. But in refusing to allow the camera to ever withdraw in the opposite direction, Ichikawa evokes the heady and suffocating effect of the past playing irrevocable catch-up with itself. It becomes like watching a film trapped in time (or flipping through the pages of a photo album), but the feeling this conveys isn’t rapturous or nostalgic but something altogether hopeless. Representing a sensory-deprivation chamber, the beautifully shot Tony Takitani, despite some occasional flashes of humor and moments of surprise and playful repetition (characters often finish the narrator’s sentences), shuns the comforting, emotional payoffs of memento moris and likens its titular character to some twee and anonymous pawn in this game called life—one that I’m not exactly sure the director believes is worth living.
Strand's video transfer strips Tony Takitani of its visual vibrancy-edge enhancement is visible throughout and blacks are painfully faded-which means the image has become as depressing as the film's emotional landscape. Audio fares better by comparison, with the music by Ryuichi Sakamoto stealing the show.
Just a bunch of trailers for other titles available on Strand Releasing Home Video.
Some kind of companion piece to Me and You and Everyone We Know, Tony Takitani may be too twee for your own good.