Tokage was commissioned by television network NHK for a series in which the works of famous Japanese authors would be narrated on film, as captured by noteworthy directors. Tsukamoto was asked to direct the short story Lizard, by Banana Yoshimoto.
Lizard concerns a love affair between two healers who are unable to heal their own psychic wounds. The narrator is a counselor for disturbed children. He has fallen in love with a profoundly sad woman nicknamed Lizard who longs for oblivion. Lizard has an uncanny ability to diagnose and treat other people’s illnesses. The story follows their mutual fumbling towards the point where they can share with each other their most personal stories. The relationship – two depressives in despair, who seek mutual healing – looks forward to Vital, which Tsukamoto would direct the next year. So do some of the themes raised by the story, like psychic abilities and the question of soul independent of body though these are lightly touched upon. Properly, the tale is about empathy and the wounds left by trauma. Also anticipating Vital, it’s one of the director’s bleakest works.
Shot on hi-def video, Tokage follows actress Ryo as she reads Yoshimoto’s text. Our first sight of her is in a bedroom, and then the camera follows through through a succession of rooms in what we soon realize is an abandoned building. As the story unfolds and the two lovers reveal more of their inner selves, the rooms Ryo visits show more alarming states of disrepair until we find ourselves in a cafeteria still festooned with the streamers that once saw a celebration. Tsukamoto films under a variety of light sources, primarily natural – they filmed it in a single continuous shot at sundown. –Sinister Simian
775MB | 49 min 31 s | 853×480 | mkv