Considering my passion for Japan and Spain, how could anyone stop me from watching a film (Map of the Sounds of Tokyo or Mapa de los sonidos de Tokio) that had both. Plus, if a movie talks about existentialism, it has to be watched. Mind you, it is not your regular commercial film designed to entertain you in the conventional sense, so be prepared for a night of unorthodox entertainment. Apparently, the director the movie conceived it when she went to the world-famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo and when a girl refused to be photographed with her, she imagined if she was hiding something. So the main character, Ryu (played so well by Rinko Kikuchi, the one you might recall from Babel), is a girl who works the night shift there but is also someone who can murder for the right price.
The film also has narrator, an old man played by Min Tanaka, who has a passion for recording sounds, and develops a friendship with Ryu, often recording the small talk they have when they hang out together. Throughout the film, we hardly know anything about her because she does not care much about making herself known or understood by the world. Separately, a Japanese executive‘s daughter, Midori, who was dating a Spaniard (David played by Sergi López) who runs a wine shop in Tokyo, kills herself, and he is so distraught by the death of the only other member in his family that he asks his assistant to get David killed. They pay Ryu to do the job, but when she meets him the very first time, she can’t make herself do the job.
Over the course of next several weeks, the couple meet in love hotels (Hotel Bastille in a room interestingly called Place des Vosges, an area that is so familiar to me from my trip to Paris and staying in the Marais neighborhood) for intense lovemaking but without any feelings for each other because David is fantasizing about his dead girlfriend and for him Ryu is merely a dummy for her. David is still depressed from the death of his girlfriend and is very disappointed that her father does not want to even talk to him. He finally decides to sell his wine shop to his Japanese colleague and return to his Spanish hometown Barcelona. When he comes to say goodbye to Ryu at the fish market, the assistant comes to kill him, but Ryu sees the killer and saves his life by putting her back in front of the killer but gets killed herself.
The words of the narrator are very touching and there are many moments in the film that make you think. In addition, you will be treated to some of the most beautiful sights of the city of Tokyo. Definitely a great film for fans of Japan but it may not appeal to everyone.
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