This film from 2009 is now available on DVD in the US from IFC. The writer-director,
Isabel Coixet, also did "Elegy". The lead actress, Rinko Kikuchi, was in "Babel" and
the lead male, Sergi Lopez, was in "Pan's Labyrinth". I can state the basic plot in one
sentence A hit-woman falls in love with the man she's contracted to murder. And here
is the rest (a few, mild plot spoilers). The beginning of the film was confusing to me
but this makes it easier to follow from the start. A wealthy businessman, CEO of a large
Japanese corporation, Mr. Nagara, grieves the suicide of his (apparently only) daughter,
Midori. He blames her boyfriend. His right-hand man says he will take care of it. He
contracts with a killer to murder the boyfriend (David). The killer, Ryu, works at a
fish market but is a free-lance killer in her spare time. The story is told from the
(improbable) point of view of an older Japanese male who frequently has lunches with Ryu.
He's hopelessly enchanted with her but she tells him nothing about her personal life. He
is a sound recorder by profession and he enjoys taping the sounds of Ryu (hence, the title).
Ryu locates the target but then becomes enamored of him and doesn't want to do the job.
David explains to Ryu that his girlfriend committed suicide, and he can't get over her--he
thinks about her every day. She was chronically depressed but he was much in love with her.
I thought this would be some kind of fast-paced sexy action film. It is not. It's not at all
fast-paced, there are no chase-scenes and a very minimal amount of shooting (apart from the
camera, that is) and it's really more of a sad love story.
Despite the title, the visuals really predominated in this film. The director/script writer
favors minimal dialog and maximal visual imagery in this film. The cinematography and the
images are great. The visuals are the strongest part of this film, although with the
characters, there are so many long close-ups that it got a little annoying. The images of
Tokyo and various interior images however, are really beautiful.
The sound track has a number of songs, none of which I particularly cared for. They're mostly
solo-singer, sad love songs.
There is partial nudity, basically from the hips up. Rinko Kikuchi looks very good in partial
nudity. This DVD is unrated, but should be considered "R" based on partial nudity, some
explicit language, not really for violence.
I recommend it for interesting images, not so much for plot or dialog. Don't look for an
action movie here. The cinematography is lovingly done.