Review: Moonlight In Tokyo (2005)

Directed by: ,
Cast: , , ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

Would I be alone in thinking there’s something amiss about the idea of Chapman To pimping out Leon Lai on the streets of Tokyo? If the answer was yes, then Moonlight in Tokyo is the answer to this singular eccentricity of yours.

If the answer was no … well I won’t have to call for the big guys with the padded van.

Disturbing as the central premise sounds, Moonlight in Tokyo is a surprisingly enjoyable film that looks at the fraternity that can exist between men without unresolved sexual tension being an issue. Unlike Rain Man, where the retarded nature of Dustin Hoffman’s character is just a backdrop to the development of Tom Cruise’s character, the mental disability of Lai’s Jun is not severe enough to hinder his social interaction drastically — and in fact it assists him in connecting to his clients and To’s Hoi. As such, it is possible to see some characterisation of both Hoi and Jun as more than just what they first appear to be, and to see the relationship between them shift as a consequence.

It is always refreshing to see Chapman’s acting reined in: to see his levels of ham released only at appropriate moments, rather than the bombardment of silliness we often see from him. Leon’s performance as the retarded Jun is quite good, though I sometimes doubted the ease with which he shifted his gait from childish innocent to confident gigolo. The romantic leads are a non-presence, and really just there to act as character development for the two leads. In fact, I was somewhat disappointed when Jun’s romantic thread ran out despite being very impressed with how it was played out.

There’s a slight ballet theme that runs through the film, and which affects the visual design and scene construction at certain moments. Some of these moments are quite charming, although there’s one scene which is quite disconcerting in its presentation and timing. The imagery seems mainly a connection to Jun, which is quite disarming but it’s always such a treat to see such acts of physical elegance, whether it be from kung fu masters or ballet dancers.

Moonlight in Tokyo is certainly an enjoyable film with characters that will engage you for the length of the film, while the occasional scene provides a healthy dose of surrealism to break the drama from becoming something that is simply too much.

8 Clients with 'Special Needs' out of 10.
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