Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Review | Movie | Tokyo Godfathers

TOKYO GODFATHERS : While dumpster diving in Tokyo, three homeless people,
ex-cyclist Gin, transvestite Hana, and teenage runaway Miyuki, discover an
abandoned newborn baby. Hana is convinced it is a Christmas miracle, as she has
always wanted to be a mother, but could never be because she was born male.
Finally, Gin and Miyuki convince Hana that the child must be turned in, and Hana
concludes that, with their help, she will locate the baby's mother and find
out why she abandoned her child.

After becoming enthralled with anime masterpiece Millennium Actress, I decided to look into other Satoshi Kon creations, and happened upon Tokyo Godfathers. Though the simple storyline didn't quite capture me at first, Kon has once again amazed me with another incredible film.

The overall plot is a very simple one at that: Three homeless people find an abandoned baby and plot to turn it in. Adding onto the details, these homeless people have rather interesting backgrounds: Gin is a middle-aged alcoholic who worked as a professional cyclist in his youth, but thanks to "a get-rich-quick scheme" from a rival, he lost a race that would fund bills for his critically-ill daughter, who consequentially died, his wife following soon after. Next in line is Hana, a transvestite who worked as a performer at a gay bar, but fled after attacking a drunk customer for calling her an "old fart". The last, and perhaps the most mysterious of the quirky group, is Miyuki, a teenager afraid to return home. The details of why she is afraid to return are unclear at first, though before the spoilers come in, we do manage to collect that she stabbed her own father when her cat went missing, implying that Miyuki suspected her father got rid of her beloved cat Angel. Her father being a policeman, Miyuki fled out of shame, and possibly to escape severe punishment. The wacky threesome are a comedy troupe all on their own, and it doesn't take long for us to start laughing at their perks.

Being homeless, they make their livings through selling objects they find in the trash, and one night, as Christmas approaches, they stumble upon a newborn baby girl, wrapped in blankets and a key in its person, laying amongst the trash. Hana, overcome with delusions of being a mother, is thrilled, and calls it a "Christmas miracle", that God has brought her a child. Miyuki and Gin, however, try to convince Hana that the child does not belong to her and that it should be turned into the police, in which Hana revolts, telling them that if the mother wanted the child, she would not have abandoned in. After much pressure from Miyuki and Gin, Hana does at last come to terms with the fact that the baby needs its real mother, and decides that instead of merely turning the baby into the police, she will find the baby's mother on her own, so she can ask the mother face-to-face why she abandoned her baby. Using information found in a locker opened with the baby's key, the three set out across Tokyo searching for the parents of "Kiyoko" (a name Hana gave to the child), encountering many hilarious obstacles along the way.

I was extremely impressed at how much comedy and overall enjoyment could come out of such a simple storyline. I was hooked from the minute Hana took up Kiyoko, which is clearly not an unusual side effect from picking up a Satoshi Kon film. Hana is a blast to watch in the film for dishing out the humor at the perfect moments, though all-in-all they are truly The Three Stooges: Individually, they're funny, but together, they're hilarious, and together they make each other shine their brightest.

This film holds a PG-13 rating for "thematic elements, violent images, language and some sexual material", and the sexual material is probably derived from the slight nudity in the film (though this nudity is not depicted sexually.) We see a woman breastfeeding two children (breasts are obvious) and a woman attempts to breastfeed a child but the child does not (the woman's breast and nipple are evident, and furthermore taking up most of the screen.) A transvestite male asks another if his boyfriend died from AIDS. Characters curse throughout the movie, and a transvestite male is called several derogatory names (queer, homo, fa**ot, etc.) We hear a girl stabbed her father, and a woman attempts to commit suicide twice (once while holding a baby), and two homeless men are beaten up by a group of younger men. A man is shot (we later hear he survived) and the shooter hostages a teenage girl and a baby to get away.

Tokyo Godfathers is inches from being slapstick in its comedy, and is a complete pleasure to watch from beginning to end. Anyone who enjoyed Kon's amazing Millennium Actress will not want to miss out on Tokyo Godfathers. I'll definitely be adding this DVD to my collection, and you may very well decide to add it to yours.

Overall Rating:
/ 5

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