Tony Takitani

Director: Jun Ichikawa
Screenwriters: Jun Ichikawa, Haruki Murakami

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


While we typically think of literature-to-screen adaptations as taking a naturalistic approach, veteran director Jun Ichikawa calls on inventive strategies to evoke the serene, transcendent, imaginary world of his source—the short story, "Tony Takitani," by celebrated author Haruki Murakami. Brilliantly channeling the spirit of Murakami's writing, Ichikawa achieves a perfectly controlled minimalist film masterpiece that operates seamlessly on symbolic, aesthetic, and emotional levels.

A fable about enduring isolation and emptiness and the possibility of fulfillment, Tony Takitani surveys the solitary life of a stoic technical illustrator. When Tony meets and marries Eiko, he comes alive and for the first time perceives and is terrified of his own loneliness. Meanwhile, Eiko is so bewitched by couture clothing that Tony builds a special room to house the fruits of her shopping sprees. But when he asks her to restrain her compulsions, the consequences are tragic.

Honoring the style of the original text, Ichikawa embraces Murakami's third-person narration, only rarely endowing the characters with spoken dialogue. With the calm, detached voice of the narrator propelling the action forward, the visual frame is freed up for poetic impressions and gorgeous abstractions. A fluid camera dollies horizontally from one spare tableau to the next, suggesting painterly storytelling screens; meanwhile, a melancholy piano score embodies the essence of Tony's soul.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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