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Tokyo Project

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2017

Tokyo Project is a captivating 2017 short film presented by HBO, a merging of romance, mystery, and drama. Starred by Elisabeth Moss and Ebon Moss-Bachrach, the narrative offers a beautiful and disarming exploration of the haze that is Japan's most populous city, Tokyo. The film blends the intriguing aspects of an independent foreign feature with the immersive cinematics usually showcased by HBO’s high production value. The result? A cinematography masterpiece that reveals its stars in the heart of isolation, connection, and the complexities of human experience and emotions.

Moss plays the character of Akiko, a fascinating woman with an enigmatic aura. Her co-star, Moss-Bachrach, portrays an American photographer named Sebastian, who is visiting Tokyo on business. The film opens with Sebastian exploring the bustling city, seemingly entranced and overwhelmed by its distinctive cultural aspects. It's during such an expedition that he encounters the elusive Akiko, a woman who engages him in a peculiarly intimate, yet vague conversations about their respective lives and Tokyo's many hidden gems.

This encounter initiates a series of shared moments, wandering through strikingly quiet streets and charming corridors, visiting sake bars, and basking in the contrasting but harmonious landscapes that Tokyo provides. While the romantic chemistry between the two is palpable, it's intermittently strained with an air of confusion and suspense. Each unfolding segment is skillfully crafted, providing just enough detail to maintain the audience's curiosity while maintaining an enchanting sense of mystery around both characters.

What underlines the beauty of the Tokyo Project is its handle on the intricate blend of modern and traditional aspects of Tokyo that the film effortlessly portrays. Director Richard Shepard, with his keen eye for detail, reveals the Tokyo under its skin, its intimate corners, and cultural quirks, captured dramatically through cinematic lens. Tokyo, by itself, becomes a significant character in the narrative, adding a layer of cultural depth, enriching the storyline.

Elisabeth Moss, renowned for her roles in 'The Handmaid’s Tale' and 'Mad Men', is fantastically expressive and subtle as Akiko. Her performance conveys a complex character bearing a delicate mixture of emotion, ranging from aloofness to potent intimacy. Ebon Moss-Bachrach, famous for his roles in 'Girls' and 'The Punisher', plays Sebastian with equal sensitivity. His portrayal of an American lost and intrigued by an alien city, touched by an alien emotion, is compelling.

The soundtrack of the Tokyo Project is laudably intricate and perfectly intertwined with the storytelling. It's an assorted mix of American and Japanese tracks, all chosen meticulously to amplify the emotional undertones of the scenes they accompany. In fact, the music shifts seamlessly with the narrative, echoing the contrasting vibes of resilience and vulnerability that mark the characters' journey.

The film delivers not just a moving narrative but is also an ode to the city of Tokyo. It is a travelogue of a mesmerizing holiday in a foreign land, dipped in the hues of intrigue and an impending sense of mystery. It displays Tokyo in its real sense, with its endless maze of alleyways, vivid neon lights, charming regularities, and distinct irregularities, capturing the city's essence with nuanced seamless visuals.

The storytelling in Tokyo Project is layered, and it gets more complex as the plot progresses and the characters get more entangled with each other. The theme of loneliness, mental health, despair, and hope, form the backbone of this narrative, opening up various dimensions of the story that leaves the watchers with much to interpret and introspect.

Tokyo Project can be best described as an introspective journey tinted with mystery, soaked in romance, surrounded by stunning visuals, rooted in realism, and accompanied by an evocative soundtrack. It is both a character study and a love letter to a city, which visually encapsulates the hustle and the harmony of Tokyo, while delicately exploring the human emotions of love, pain, and loneliness.

While being a short film, Tokyo Project packs a punch, leaves a lasting impression, evokes thought, and perhaps a yearning to explore the labyrinth that Tokyo represents. It's an alluring exploration of two souls lost within themselves, finding and losing each other within the vastness yet intimacy of an enchanting city. This is a movie that beautifully captures the human spirit and the art of storytelling without saying too much, leaving its audience in thoughtful quietude.

Tokyo Project is a Romance, Drama, TV Movie movie released in 2017. It has a runtime of 32 min. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.5..

6.5/10
Director
Richard Shepard
Stars
Shusaku Kakizawa, Elisabeth Moss, Ebon Moss-Bachrach
Tokyo Project is available on .