Touching, funny, outrageous yet grounded in humanity, Adrift In Tokyo is the ultimate road movie in which the two protagonists just…stroll their way across the landscape of the metropolis of Tokyo. It begins with a shambolic and wild-haired loser named Takemura, who suddenly finds himself at the mercy of the tough debt collector Fukuhara. With Takemura unable to pay back the money, Fukuhara proposes that they take a walk through Tokyo, and he will pay back Takemura’s debt. Unsure as to why Fukuhara would do this, Takemura has no choice but to take up his absurd plan.
From this basic premise comes richness in characterization and a natural drollness that is intensely sublime. Much of the credit goes to the easy chemistry between the two leads. Japanese heartthrob Joe Odagiri [Azumi (Reel Asian Closing Night, 2003), Blood And Bones] portrays Takemura as an unwitting hero – a man down on his luck with little self-confidence and no goals in life. Conversely, Fukuhara, sensationally played by Tomokazu Miura (Always: Sunset On Third Street, The Taste Of Tea), is seen as a good-hearted thug in an unfortunate predicament. Their continuous bantering evolves into a real relationship, giving way to unexpected depth in their personalities. All the while, director Miki keeps the pace lively with unexpected side gags, witty repartees and the reality of crazy Tokyo. Filled with everyone from girls who dress up in costumes and punked-out electric rockers to a bogus makeshift family, the city offers all a chance to be themselves.
It is the ever-changing Tokyo itself that acts as the third character here. From the bustle and neon-glitter of places like Shinjuku to quiet leafy neighbourhoods of the suburbs, it is a film that lets us explore the city while the characters basically act as commentators. Even when the focus is shifted to the misadventures of the co-workers of Fukuhara’s wife, this only serves to show us a different side of life in Tokyo.
In the end, the sterling humour and the genuine warmth is singularly the creation of Satoshi Miki, whose screenplay and direction make it possible for such a basic concept to become something richer than most films you’ll see this year.