Beat Takeshi (ビートたけし）or simply Takeshi Kitano is a director I started following after his late works became iconic in Europe. I won’t lie if I admit that the first film from him I saw was Zatoichi, not his best piece indeed, a movie he did in a clear homage to the classic action films done during the 70s and that brought us masterpieces like “Lone wolf and cub”. After seeing Zatoichi, I saw other movies of him like Hana-bi (花火）, which reflected the personality of the author, a man of few words but with an incredible sensibility for art, music and life itself. Sonatine is perhaps the movie that finally gave international credit to Kitano and when compared with previous and later films, it’s just another slab in his cinematographic discourse.
Sonatine’s plot revolves around the life of a Yakuza chief who has finally become conscious of how miserable his existence is. Far away are the years when he began the profession and now he sees himself as a rich yet lonely and disarrayed man. When the organization asks him to go to Okinawa to settle up some confrontation between local chiefs, he finds himself in the frontier between the Yakuza life to its full extent and the peaceful life he would have had he chosen another job.
That said, Sonatine follows the Kitano formula, with long shots where nothing apparently happens, sudden cuts or scenes that seem to have almost no relation with the main plot and explosions of violence suddenly following a calm scene. Some say Kitano is the true successor to Kurosawa, but I’d rather see him like a Japanese Godard (The shot above will actually remind the viewer of Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou).
It’s also worth mentioning the soundtrack of the film, scored by Joe Hisaishi, which creates a nice and relaxed atmosphere to contrast with the violence of the characters. Because at the end, the movie is a reflection of how violence resides in ourselves and how it bears no relation with the kind of person you are or you wish you were: violence is part of human nature.
One scene: the yakuza gang playing sumo in the beach.