Tokyo Sonata (12A)

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The Independent Culture

For about an hour Kiyoshi Kurosawa's domestic drama presents an enthralling study in masculine authority undone by economic circumstance.

Salaryman Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) is made redundant, and, unable to admit it to his wife (Kyoko Koizumi) and sons, takes to haunting soup-kitchen queues and employment centres. His sense of humiliation gradually poisons the family, with the older son taking off for US military service and the younger defying him by taking piano lessons (one imagines most parents would welcome such rebellion in their offspring). About halfway through, however, the film is completely derailed when the wife is kidnapped by a burglar and Sasaki has what appears to be a mental breakdown: the carefully measured tone goes suddenly berserk. The film is very astute about pride and shame, less accomplished in sustaining a coherent narrative.