Saturday, 2 May 2015


Lest anyone doubt Sono Sion's ability to mount a feature out of sheer determination, along comes Tokyo Tribe, a film whose few admirable qualities are derived almost solely from Sono's achievements in putting it together and keeping it ticking over. Actually, Tokyo Tribe doesn't quite tick over - it boils over, incessantly and infuriatingly, and it is thus that this cacophony of sound and fury is so admirable in its construction, and so horrible in its purpose. Effectively a hip-hop opera, it's often unclear where the rapping ends and the dialogue begins, so arrythmic is the rapping and so strained are both. A low-rent instrumental underscores every scene; imagining the film without it is a strange, soothing experience. It's in Sono's hazy, soft-lit visuals that most of Tokyo Tribe's fair qualities reside - it's a gregarious mise-en-scene, especially with the impressive long takes, and Sono is both right to draw inspiration from music video aesthetics and accurate in his appropriation of such inspirations for cinematic purposes. It's what is contained within the imagery that Sono creates that brings up problem after problem: should a perfunctory plot and amateurish acting fail to leave a sour taste in one's mouth, the film's vile moral stance ought to do the trick. Tokyo Tribe is occasionally homophobic, constantly misogynistic, even rapey at times, most notably in a couple of deeply uncomfortable scenes of sexualised violent threat. You'll likely not care about Sono's directorial determination when all his efforts seem focused on achieving the perfect angle on the blade of a knife running over a pair of particularly perky tits.