Who Killed the Electric Car?

Short story becomes a film

Posted November 30, 2006

Tony Takitani had a solitary childhood. Being alone was normal since his mother died young and his father was always away with his jazz band. At school he studied art, but while his sketches were accurate and detailed they lacked feeling. Used to being self-sufficient, Tony seemed to find emotions illogical and immature.

After finding his true vocation as a technical illustrator, he becomes fascinated by Eiko, a client who in turn is fascinated by high-end fashion. Eventually he marries her, and his life changes. He feels vibrantly alive and for the first time he understands and fears loneliness. But her obsession with designer clothes begins to worry him. When he asks her to economize, the consequences are tragic.

"Tony Takitani" is an eloquent, deftly told tale based on a short story published in The New Yorker, written by bestselling Japanese author Haruki Murakami ("Norwegian Wood," "Kafka On The Shore"). Issey Ogata stars as the title character, a simple, undemanding mechanical draftsman who lives a lonely existence.

Written and directed by Jun Ichikawa ("Ryoma's Wife, Her Husband And Her Lover"), "Tony Takitani" is told in long scenes with little or no dialogue; sometimes the characters themselves finish parts of the narration, which is delivered by Hidetoshi Nishijima at a soft, deliberate pace. The intelligent script, which is extremely faithful to Murakami's original story, is accompanied by Ryuichi Sakamoto's gorgeous, spare score and Hirokawa Taishi's stark, captivating cinematography.

"Tony Takitani" was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in its World Cinema program and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for 2005 for Best Foreign Picture.

"Tony Takitani," Saturday, Dec. 2, 7:30 pm, Katharine Cornell Theatre, Spring Street, Vineyard Haven. This film is not rated; Japanese with English subtitles. Tickets $6 or $4 for Martha's Vineyard Film Society members.