Best Movies by Farr
Tokyo Sonata Poster
Released Runtime Category
2008 120 Drama, Foreign Language
Director Language
Kiyoshi Kurosawa Japanese
Kyoko Koizumi, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yu Koyanagi, Kai Inowaki

Tokyo Sonata

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What's it About

When proud Ryuhei Sasaki (Kagawa) loses his previously stable, mid-level job in Japan's depressed economy, he avoids telling his wife Megumi (Koizumi), bottles up his anger, and leaves to look for work every morning. Meanwhile their children are caught up in their own troubles: oldest son Takashi (Koyanagi) has dreams of joining the American military, since he feels his country offers him nothing; and the younger boy Kenji (Inowaki) learns he could become a piano prodigy, if only his parents would pay for the lessons. Gradually, Megumi grows restless and impatient as she tries to hold this troubled family together.

Why we love it

This dark, oddball slice-of-life drama could have been one dour slog, but director Kurosawa imbues the film with an affecting humanity that holds us fast. The quiet, mostly empty Tokyo the Sasaki clan inhabits is a far cry from the neon-blasted megalopolis we’re used to seeing, and the film beats to the recognizable rhythms of daily life. You’ll come out feeling considerable sympathy for these flawed, struggling characters. And when the film takes a dark third-act twist, you’ll be relieved at an outcome that promises a measure of reconciliation and growth. Trust us: this "Sonata" will stay with you.

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BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"