Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami has inspired some prestigious movies, most recently Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car. Regardless of whether this new Murakami adaptation (based on his short story collection of the same name) comes to be considered the best, I think it might actually capture the elusive essence of Murakami more than any other – something in it being a Rotoscope animation of elegant simplicity. It has the ruminative lightness, almost weightlessness, the watercolour delicacy and reticence of the emotions, the sense of the uncanny, the insistent play of erotic possibility and that Murakami keynote: a cat.
Pierre Földes makes his feature directing debut here, having been long been a composer; his musical credits include Michael Cuesta’s L.I.E. from 2001, and he has written the score for this movie too, which brings together a constellation of characters and storylines around the recent Tokyo earthquake – to which it attributes a tonal sense of disorientation rather than tragedy and sadness. Komura (voiced in the English-language dub by Ryan Bommarito) is a quiet young man working joylessly in a bank; his wife, Kyoko, (Shoshana Wilder) suffers from insomnia and depression, ceaselessly watching TV news reports about the earthquake. She walks out on Komura, plagued by a guilty memory of having made a bizarre Faustian bargain to get together with him in the first place.
Meanwhile, Komura’s older colleague Katagiri (Marcelo Arroyo) is in trouble with his mean boss for failing to recover a huge outstanding debt and Katagiri is surreally visited in his apartment by a giant frog (voiced by Földes himself) who offers to take care of his banking problem in return for helping him do secret battle with a giant underground worm who is going to cause a second earthquake. The seductively quirky sad-serious tone of Murakami is cleverly brought out.
• Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is released on 31 March in UK and Irish cinemas, with an Australian release date to be advised.