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Tagatameni (Japan Version - English Subtitles) DVD Region 2

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Tagatameni (Japan Version - English Subtitles)
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YesAsia Editorial Description

Asano Tadanobu (Ichi The Killer, Vital) stars in the psychological drama, Tagatameni - literally translated as "For Whom do We Exist?" A young man, Tamio (Asano), is forced to make some serious decisions about his life when his young, beautiful wife is brutally murdered by a delinquent. Too young to go to prison, the boy is sent to a juvenile detention center from which he subsequently escapes. Should Tamio take matters into his own hands and seek vengeance for what has happened to him? Or should he offer forgiveness? If he seeks to avenge his wife's death, will he be damned for eternity? Also starring Erika, Chizuru Ikewaki, and Teppei Koike, and directed by Taro Hyugaji.
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Product Title: Tagatameni (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Tagatameni (日本版 - 英文字幕) Tagatameni (日本版 - 英文字幕) 誰がために Tagatameni (Japan Version - English Subtitles)
Artist Name(s): Asano Tadanobu | Koike Teppei | Ikewaki Chizuru | Erika | Mashima Hidekazu | Kikuchi Rinko 淺野忠信 | 小池徹平 | 池脇千鶴 | Erika | 眞島秀和 | 菊地凜子 浅野忠信 | 小池彻平 | 池脇千鹤 | Erika | 眞岛秀和 | 菊地凛子 浅野忠信 | 小池徹平 | 池脇千鶴 | エリカ | 眞島秀和 | 菊地凛子 Asano Tadanobu | 코이케 테페이 | Ikewaki Chizuru | Erika | Mashima Hidekazu | Kikuchi Rinko
Director: Hyugaji Taro Hyugaji Taro Hyugaji Taro 日向寺太郎 Hyugaji Taro
Release Date: 2006-02-24
Publisher Product Code: BCBJ-2428
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English
Place of Origin: Japan
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: 2 - Japan, Europe, South Africa, Greenland and the Middle East (including Egypt) What is it?
Publisher: Bandai Visual
Other Information: DVD
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1004102395

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Professional Review of "Tagatameni (Japan Version - English Subtitles)"

December 28, 2005

Tagatameni, which translates from Japanese as "For Whose Sake" or "For Whom Do We Exist", is a revenge drama which is about as slow-burning as you could get. That's not necessarily a bad thing but there's a distinct lack of narrative drive which gives you time to admire the beautiful photography and excellent performances while wondering if the film is ever going to reach any kind of conclusion. The plot is familiar. A photographer called Tamio (Asano Tadanobu) falls in love with Ayako (Erika) and marries her. But when she is three months pregnant, she is irrationally murdered by a young man who, as a juvenile, is given a minimum sentence and released after a year. Ayako wants revenge but is discouraged both by his inner conflicts and his growing affection for an old friend, Mari (Chizuru Ikewaki).

The influence of several other directors hangs heavy over this film, not surprisingly considering that it's a debut feature. There's an obsession with landscape and weather that is reminiscent of the work of Tarkovsky - particularly the notion that staring at an image for a significant time will render it profound. Many of the formal compositions recall Ozu, as does the stately pacing and lack of interest in narrative drive, and the general mood of melancholic resignation brings to mind Bresson. But one unexpected influence seems to be the work of Sean Penn - himself influenced by some of the filmmakers I've just named. You may recall that The Crossing Guard is largely a film about impotence and procrastination, questioning the morality and purpose of revenge and ending in a kind of muted sadness. Similarly, The Pledge saw Jack Nicholson's hero get lost in his notions of heroism and justice. Like Penn's films, the pacing of this film is also slow and meditative.

Indeed, it's the pacing which may put people off Tagatameni and that would be a shame. Although the film is slow, it possesses a cumulative power which demands that the viewer stick with it until the end to appreciate the final pay-off - which seems to be a direct reference to The Searchers. If you're looking for a conventional revenge movie, then this will disappoint. It's more about the ethics of revenge and, like The Crossing Guard, it questions what revenge actually achieves and what it does to both parties. This is dramatized in a somewhat clunky and schematic argument between Tamio and Mari - he supporting revenge, she decrying it - but the issue is a potent one and throws up all sorts of moral quandaries which the film sadly ducks in an inconclusive climax, despite the potency of the final image. Presumably, the ending is meant to be ambivalent but it just looks as though director Hyugaji Taro and his screenwriter Kato Masato don't quite know what to do with the various genies they have unleashed.

Yet there is a good deal of emotional truth contained within the film and a good deal of that comes from the exceptional performance of Asano Tadanobu as Tamio. Asano is an actor who will probably be most familiar to Western viewers for his roles in Ichi The Killer, Gohatto and, particularly, Zatoichi and this seems like a change of pace for him since it's a much more restrained and internalized performance. He seems to do very little, but his eloquent face tells a whole story of grief and loss. Asking a charismatic and showy actor to hold himself back is quite a challenge - both for the performer and the director - and the results are most impressive. There's a particularly memorable scene where he simply has to sit by a river and the impression of pain is almost overwhelming. He's very well supported by Erika as Ayako and Chizuru Ikewaki as Mari; the latter has a difficult role, beginning unsympathetically and coming round to being the most engaging character in the film. The most difficult role goes to Koike Teppei as the killer. Given little to do and obviously told to offer a minimum of expression, his blank face and dead eyes are genuinely chilling. When he says he doesn't know why he killed Ayako, we believe him, and that's rather unsettling.

Tagatameni is a sad and thoughtful film, creating a tangible mood of emotional desolation, which avoids easy answers and that's something for which one is inclined to forgive the somewhat evasive conclusion. Even if it doesn't address all the questions it raises, it does at least raise them in a serious, adult way without sensationalism. Hyugaji Taro has taste and craftsmanship, enough to make you interested in what he'll do next. Unfortunately, he also allows a certain mediocrity to edge its way in, nowhere more so than in the twee piano score by Yano Akiko. There is also some crashingly obvious symbolism involving a photo of the young daughter of a suicide bomber and the famous headless statue of Nike, which can be seen in the Louvre. But Hyugaji works so well with his actors and creates such a consistent mood that Tagatameni is well worth seeing and suggests that a successful career awaits.

The Japanese Region 2 label Emotion have released Tagatameni on a pretty good DVD. The film is presented in an anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 format. It's a clear image with excellent, vivid colors. However, it's also rather soft and this becomes particularly apparent in close-ups. The darker interior scenes also show signs of artefacting.

The Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 is excellent with the (irksome) piano score coming across very strongly. Surround activity is mostly limited to the music and some of the ambient effects. The film is supported by English subtitles. However, the extra features are in Japanese without subtitles. Along with a trailer, the features include a twenty-minute group interview with the actors prior to a screening and brief individual interviews with Asano, Erika, and Koike.

Tagatameni is an interesting and likeable film which should satisfy audiences who are willing to adjust to the slow pace. The DVD is generally acceptable, although it's a shame that the extras don't have English subtitles.

by Mike Sutton - DVD Times

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