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Haruki Murakami is back on the agenda for the next year – first there will be the adaptation of Norwegian Wood, available in a few months, then there is the English translation release of 1Q84, his new, three-volume novel.

This adaptation of Murakami’s short story, released in English in the collection “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”, was not something I had anticipated, but it makes a substantial impact. First off, the cinematography is superb. The camera techniques used to tell the story – the panning, the fade outs – the music, narration and acting all combine to produce 76 minutes of compelling sadness. Tony Takitani is a meditation on loneliness and isolation. Much can be read into the story, and what it says about love. That Tony’s request to his wife to give up her shopping addiction leads to her death can be seen as a tragic accident, or an implied message about what happens when you ask loved ones to give up something they hold dear. Tony doesn’t realise he is lonely until he is shown something different – he changes, only for this love to be snatched away.

This is not a film you can really ‘like’, but one that demands respect for its beautiful storytelling power. A near-as-perfect adaptation of a short story as I have seen, it should be a requisite ‘text’ for how to make films. So – little love but lots of respect for this bleak but beautiful adaptation. ★★