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Tokyo Godfathers at Union South Marquee
December 10, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:05 pmFree
Gin, Miyuki, and Hana debate what to do next in their quest to return an abandoned child they found on the streets of Tokyo on Christmas Eve.
Satoshi Kon may be best known for his animated, surrealistic, psychological thrillers, so Tokyo Godfathers (2003) may stand out in writer-director-character designer’s oeuvre as a rollicking buddy adventure that just happens to be Christmas-themed. But it’s quite a natural follow-up to Kon’s postmodernist masterpiece Millennium Actress (2001), about a reclusive movie star modeled after the real-life Setsuko Hara (of Yasujirō Ozu’s Tokyo Story).
Tokyo Godfathers boasts a restless pacing and zany energy contained in the dynamic between its trio of drifters—the gruff drunkard Gin (voiced by Tōru Emori), boisterous trans woman Hana (Yoshiaki Umegaki), and penitent teen runaway Miyuki (Aya Okamoto)—who find an abandoned newborn baby on Christmas Eve and collectively set out to locate her parents based on a mere photograph left at the scene. Through their rag-tag detective work, the trio uncover truths of their own characters and shortcomings in tragicomic fashion, realizing they may not be radically different from the struggling parents who saw themselves as incapable of caring for a child.
While something about the film’s developments may feel curbed in its concise 92-minute running time, Kon’s compellingly larger-than-life staging and beautifully diverse visual flourishes elevate its dramatic rushes through the snowy streets and alleys of Tokyo. Miyuki’s fantastical dream and Hana’s reflective haiku, in particular, both offer ruminative respites that showcase the miraculous depths of Kon’s talent that’s deeply missed today.
WUD Film will be screening the Japanese language version with English subtitles.
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