Film: Adrift In Tokyo
UK Release date: 27th February 2012
UK Distributor: Third Window Films
Director: Miki Satoshi
Starring: Odagiri Jo, Tomokazu Miura, Kyoko Koizumi, Yuriko Yoshitaka
Running time: 101 mins
Reviewer: Adam Wing
Up to now, Fumiya’s life has been anything but extraordinary. A university student for the past eight years, his life is going nowhere fast, but all’s about to change the day he meets Fukuhara. Fumiya owes money to loan sharks and one day; a man called Fukuhara turns up to collect the repayments. Unsurprisingly, Fumiya can’t afford to pay the loan back so Fukuhara makes a proposition. He will cancel the debt as long as Fumiya agrees to walk with him across Tokyo to the police station of Kasumigaseki, where he plans to turn himself in for a crime he deeply regrets. Adrift in Tokyo is a touching drama by Miki Satoshi, the director of Instant Swamp and Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers.
Not having much choice in the matter, Fumiya reluctantly accepts Fukuhara’s offer. And so begins a comical, warm-hearted journey that leads them on several unusual jaunts, not least with themselves. It’s a journey of self-discovery based on the novel by Naoki Prize winner Yoshinaga Fujita, a movie sure to charm you with its engaging lead turns and quirky humour. Gaining both a Best Script and Best Film (Special Mention) Award at the Fantasia Film Festival, and recognition for Best Supporting Actor (Tomokazu Miura) at the Kinema Junpo Awards, Adrift in Tokyo stars Odagiri Jo (Air Doll), Kyoko Koizumi (Tokyo Sonata) and Tomokazu Miura (Outrage), and is available for the first time in the U.K. courtesy of Third Window Films.
Adrift in Tokyo is a road movie with a difference, unique in the fact that our main characters spend most of their time on the sidewalks of life (unless of course they’re being chased down by the owner of a small clock shop who thinks he’s Bruce Lee). Fumiya and Fukuhara walk, talk, argue and discover a little something about themselves - on the surface there’s little more to it than that. What might sound painfully dull on paper proves in fact to be one of the most engaging films in years. It’s helped by a wonderful cast and two lead turns that bewitch from the outset. The relationship that forms is key to Adrift in Tokyo’s success, and without that believability the film just wouldn’t work. A lot of movies like this would attempt to bring two very different personalities together (something akin to a buddy movie) but Fumiya and Fukuhara are fundamentally the same person - transparently lonely, one a little wiser than the other, but with an inner sadness that radiates from them both.
Some of the situations they find themselves in add very little to the overall mood, but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll discover such is life. All of the characters - no matter how large or small the part they play - are doing the same thing, existing in a world both meandering and beautiful. It’s the little things that truly affect in life and Satoshi is making a career of depicting it, his films have always had the ability to find meaning in the most trivial of exchanges. A rather random deviation finds us following the co-workers of Fukuhara’s wife. Though light and frothy, it’s a story arc that some might argue detracts from the films most rewarding aspects. Not so. It’s not just the films protagonists that lack direction, look a little closer and you’ll soon discover why Satoshi chose to call his movie Adrift in Tokyo.
The film really finds its feet when their expedition leads them to a woman Fukuhara used to know. Fumiya’s upbringing was anything but loving - in one of many hypnotic exchanges we discover that he was abandoned by his parents as a child - but by spending time with his new found ‘family’ he discovers a side of life he had only ever dreamt about. As a result the final act is incredibly rewarding - both touching and beautifully realised.
Adrift in Tokyo is a poignant roller coaster ride of genuine emotion, full of ups and downs and somewhat fittingly, an all too abrupt conclusion. Comedy, drama and touching performances provide Miki Satoshi with his most accomplished film to date, an enchanting masterpiece that rewards in the subtlest of ways. Highly recommended.