J.A. Pak

Tony Takitani
A Film Directed by Jun Ichikawa
Adapted from a Novel by Haruki Murakami

He’s a man with no sense of other people at all. He grows up alone. His mother is dead. His father is always traveling, a jazz musician. A lady comes in once a day to cook for him. One day he tells her suddenly that he can cook his own meals from then on. At an early age, he’s so disconnected to people, he genuinely doesn’t need them.

One day this woman comes into his office. He’s a graphic artist now. This woman is dressed in the most beautiful clothes. But it’s not the beauty of the clothes that strikes him — it’s the way she wears them. The clothes become alive, beautiful to watch. He falls in love, not with the woman, not with the clothes, but with the conjunction of the two, like watching an array of stars. She’s fifteen years his junior and she has a boyfriend. But he continues to woo her, proclaiming that he’ll die without her. She knows he’s not the kind of person to make remarks that he doesn’t mean. So she marries him. But before she does, she tells him about her clothes. She spends every cent she makes buying beautiful, expensive clothes. Without these clothes, she feels dead inside. Like so many lovers, he doesn’t really care what she’s saying. It’s all about the having, not the understanding, isn’t it? They end up having a good marriage. She turns out to be a good housekeeper, taking care of all his needs, including washing the car. It’s his first real human contact and he finds he needs it. But, of course, the clothes become their downfall. Her obsession grows. She buys so many clothes, a large room is dedicated to them. One day, he says to her that maybe she should slow it down a bit. It’s not just the money — and it’s clear she’ll bankrupt them soon — but he’s genuinely worried about her mental wellbeing. She knows he’s right. And she loves him. So she decides to go cold turkey. She stays in the house, doesn’t go into town, tries to keep herself busy with housework. She even thinks that she doesn’t need all these clothes, so maybe she’ll return a coat and a pair of shoes she’d just bought. She goes into town. Bravely returns the clothes. What she feels immediately afterwards is an immense sense of relief. But then, as she drives home, she keeps thinking about the coat and shoes. How she needs them back. Without thinking, she makes a quick U-turn. Of course, she dies in a terrible car accident.

All he has left are her clothes, rack after rack after rack. But without her, the clothes are dead too. So he hires a girl to wear the clothes, just so he could get used to her death. But as soon as he sees the girl in the clothes, he realizes his efforts are ridiculous, even creepy. He gives the clothes away and loses his last connection. Except there’s the girl he’d hired, who’d cried at the beauty of the clothes. Death and shadows.

The thing is, I know how the woman felt. What the clothes did for her. That incredible sense of being fully alive when you see something so beautiful, so well made. And how that beauty can enclose you, become a part of you, give you life.

"Tony Takitani" is an excerpt from J.A. Pak's So Easy To Love, a blog that's a novella that's also a contemplation of films.

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