Tired truisms disguised as revelations add a flat note to the story of a one-hit rock band in veteran Japanese character-actor Tomorowo Taguchi's humdrum helming bow "Iden & Tity," about a young songwriter's discovery he must be true to himself and to the spirit of rock.

Tired truisms disguised as revelations add a flat note to the story of a one-hit rock band in veteran Japanese character-actor Tomorowo Taguchi’s humdrum helming bow “Iden & Tity,” about a young songwriter’s discovery he must be true to himself and to the spirit of rock. Lest he forget, the ghost of Bob Dylan, pops up with excruciating regularity, mournfully blowing his harmonica. Lively likeable cast cannot quite withstand the relentless moralism of this naive, tentatively tongue-in-cheek parable (adapted from a manga) about integrity vs. selling out, with pic’s satire of record business as lamely soft and cuddly as its cutely nerdy hero.

Taguchi imports little of his off-kilter thesping intensity to the laid-back script, set during the short-lived Japanese band boom of the mid-’80s (when Taguchi himself headlined a group named Bachikaburi). Nonetheless, as led by real-life musician Kazunobu Mineta and very capably seconded by Shido Nakamura as leather-jacketed, spike-haired lead singer Johnny, the nuanced, well-assorted ensemble acting of the fictitious “Speedway” foursome rings true, and one can only feel for the band as they beg for better material. Polished, stolid tech credits tend to undermine pic’s stabs at spontaneity.

Iden & Tity

Japan

Production

A Tohokushinsha Film Corp. production. Produced by Keisuke Konishi, Akihiko Yose. Executive producers, Iwao Sezaki, Naoki Kai, Sotaro Murayama. Directed by Tomorowo Taguchi. Screenplay by Kankuro Kudo based on a Manga by Jun Miura.

Crew

Camera (color), Kenji Takama; editor, Soichi Ueno; music, Ryomei Shirai, Yoshihide Otomo, Kenji Endo. Reviewed at Asian American Film Festival, New York, July 23, 2004. Japanese dialogue. Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Kazunobu Mineta, Nakamura Shido, Kimiko Aso, Nao Omori, Magy.
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