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Asian cinema: Japanese films

Film review: Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue – Yuya Ishii and poet Tahi Saihate collaborate for raw youth drama

This gritty Tokyo-set romantic drama tells the story of an angst-ridden young nurse who also works as a part-time hostess who meets a construction worker whose feelings of impending doom are mixed with a sense of hope

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 December, 2017, 7:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 December, 2017, 7:01pm

3.5/5 stars

Prolific Japanese filmmaker Yuya Ishii wrestles the award-winning poetry of Tahi Saihate to the big screen in Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue, an adolescent love story tangled in angst and raw emotion.

Both celebrated young artists in their respective fields, this collaboration sets itself apart from more commercial romantic fare, grounded in a gritty urban realism that defiantly refuses to give its characters easy solutions or unearned happiness. Unknown actors appear alongside upcoming stars and veteran collaborators in a version of contemporary Tokyo where even the most mundane of life’s daily routines prove an unending struggle, riddled with challenges, tragedy and loneliness.

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Mika (newcomer Shizuka Ishibashi) works as a nurse in a terminal ward by day, and as a hostess in a girlie bar at night. Surrounded by death and empty physical encounters, she struggles to remain optimistic about the world. Through a series of random incidents, her path repeatedly crosses that of Shinji (Sosuke Ikematsu, Death Note: Light Up the New World ), a day-hire construction worker with a bad eye and eccentric, unflappable demeanour.

There’s a youthful energy that propels the film forward, even if the narrative seems reluctant to bring its protagonists company. Consumed by doubt, anxiety and fear in the wake of traumatic environmental incidents, Mika and Shinji are determined to find something in their mundane lives for which to be hopeful. Perhaps it will be together – if only they knew how to take that terrifying first step towards one another.

Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue opens on December 14

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