"Adrift in Tokyo" initially ambles in typical indie style, but actually ends up going somewhere.

A simply structured tale of a thug who asks a law student burdened with gambling debts to accompany him on a walk across town, “Adrift in Tokyo” initially ambles in typical indie style, but actually ends up going somewhere. Low-key Japanese dramedy opened to brisk biz in Tokyo last November and, thanks to lead actor Joe Odigiri’s pan-Asian popularity, could stroll to success in other Asian markets. International fests should pursue this droll charmer.

With 800,000 yen ($8,000) in gambling debts, scruffy law student Fumiya Takemura (Odagiri) is ambushed by rambunctious, middle-aged debt collector Fukuhara (Tomokazu Miura) and given three days to cough up. When they meet again, two days later, Fukuhara appears to have softened and offers a deal: if Fumiya joins him for a walk across Tokyo to the Kasumigaseki area, the debt collector will give him not only enough cash to cancel the outstanding debt but also a substantial sum for his own use.

Reason for Fukuhara’s change of heart is that, in the meantime, he’s accidentally killed his wife and wants to give himself up at Kasumigaseki police station (“the best in Tokyo”) after visiting some emotionally significant sites along the way. He nonchalantly tells Fumiya he wants him by his side to ward off loneliness.

Though he thinks it’s crazy, Fumiya agrees to make the journey. Script, based on a popular novel, is gently but heartily amusing throughout, using the walk to allow both protags to encounter significant people from their separate lives. A running gag-cum-subplot featuring character actor Ittoku Kishibe prevents the main narrative from bogging down.

Writer-helmer Satoshi Miki (“Turtles Swim Faster Than Expected”) keeps a firmer hand on the material than many indie directors who favor episodic storytelling. Odagiri and Miura are both comfortable in their roles and prove amiable company, and supporting actors are likewise on the money.

Technical package is pro.

Adrift in Tokyo

Japan

Production

A Stylejam presentation of a Ten-Ten Film Partners production, in association with Stylejam, Geneon Entertainment, Zak Corp., Aoi Advertising Promotion. (International sales: Stylejam, Tokyo.) Produced by Akihiko Yose, Nobuaki Shimohashi, Hideo Tsujihata, Kyoichi Miyazaki, Tetsu Takase. Executive producers, Masaki Kai, Mizue Kunizane. Directed, written by Satoshi Miki, based on the novel by Yoshinaga Fujita.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Sohei Tanigawa; editor, Nobuyuki Takahashi; music, Osamu Sakaguchi; production designer, Toshihiro Isomi; sound (DTS Stereo). Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, March 31, 2008. (In Hong Kong FilMart.) Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Joe Odagiri, Tomokazu Miura, Kyoko Koizumi, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Ryo Iwamatsu, Eri Fuse, Yutaka Matsushige, Yoshizumi Ishihara, Ittoku Kishibe, Reona Hirota.
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