Map of the Sounds of Tokyo is asumptuously shot by cinematographer Jean Claude Larrieu. The movie is set in Tokyo, but contrary to “Lost in translation” here the movie tries to build half on Japanese characters and half on western ones, which really demands a deeper knowledge about Japan. Using the moon landscapes of Tokyo’s city streets and angular architecture, Coixet tells a story of two souls lost in space.
For a thriller, this certainly isn’t in a rush to get anywhere. It takes its time, and its very boring. Coixet portrays a different perspective of Tokyo where the city becomes just an excuse to show the loneliness of its two protagonists, who are literally lost in a decaying world and don’t know how to get out of it. I’m aware it’s well-shot and nicely lit, with a few postcard-perfect views of Tokyo, but the story makes no sense. And remember I mention that they forcefully try and cram western influence into the film? Well, a late scene in which the main character sings Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” at a karaoke bar comes off as awkward and out of place. The trailer tries to sell the movie as a sex thriller, which it’s most decidedly not.
The strong female lead Ryu, played by Rinko Kikuchi, is stunning and heartbreaking. People overlook how rare it is to have a strong unusual female lead like this in any movie. Howeverm even she couldn’t elevate this movie to above average status. I am surprised that they even dare to bring this movie to Cannes Film Festival. Sadly, I must say I got nothing of what I was expecting: neither a nice insight into Japan, nor a situation I could connect with. I certainly would prefer to watch “Lost in Translation”, read Amelie Nothomb or watch a good documentary about Japan to see beautiful takes of the country, instead of spending two precious hours at the cinema. I don’t particularly like Isabel Coixet’s movies, but I can accept that her pulse fits well when screen playing dramatic, intimate novels.
Kikuchi fans may want to seek out the film for her performance, which is the only real great thing I can account for this film. Too bad, I could not for the life of me believe in chemistry between the two of them. That being said, it contains very explicit sex scenes, so be careful little children. I don’t think it’s a movie any kid would like to see or appreciate. For all the perverts out there, as the movie develops I got mostly bored, the sex scenes seem empty, repetitive and with no special purpose. All in all, a disappointing movie with no leftover redeeming qualities.