Lonely man marries woman, woman is addicted to buying clothes, woman dies, man is lonely again.
If ever there was a short story that didn't require padding out into a feature-length film, this is it. The original, by novelist Haruki Murakami, was written for the New Yorker and takes up barely 13 pages of a PDF file.
Ichikawa's adaptation is beautifully, albeit self-consciously, shot, but his translation from little story to big screen is literal-minded at best - it's like the illustrated children's edition. Murakami's trademark lightness of touch is nowhere to be found. For the duration of the film, the flat dialogue is flatly and linearly narrated; characters breaking out of their one-dimensional stasis every so often to chime in and finish off the narrator's sentences. A technique that would have been irritating once, but used ad infinitum is elevated to the rank of teeth-grindingly insufferable.
This truly is the proverbial cure for insomnia: a mind-numbingly prosaic depiction of the life of graphic artist Tony and his oniomaniacal wife that says less about the nature of loneliness than it does about the nature of tedium. Tony Takitani clearly wants to be seen as a film of quiet beauty and profundity - you can almost see it straining to measure up - but it falls well, well short. Superficial in every way.
Dir. Jun Ichikawa, 2004