Sonatine Review

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A yakuza lieutenant is reassigned to Okinawa to help smooth over a local turf war.


Sonatine is a singularly unusual film - its premise being that to understand violence you must explore the moments of calm that punctuate it.

On the surface this is a gangster movie. Murakawa, a yakuza mob boss is sent to Okinawa to sort out the local in-fighting among the gangsters there. He is aware that this assignment may just be a ploy to take him away from his own turf – and soon has his suspicions confirmed – but holed up on a beach with the rest of his “family” he returns to a more innocent state.

      But there are ominous overtones to their games on the sand and, as things take a turn for the worse, Murakawa is left defending a beach hut trying to avenge his clansmen’s blood.

Takeshi delivers a perfectly-measured performance as the man who wants out, but retains the strength to recognise that circumstances and obligations will never allow it.

Beautifully shot and sharply observed, with a hauntingly minimalist score, Sonatine is poignant and unforgettable.

Beautiful and resonant, this provokes deeper thoughts on the nature of living with violence than most gangster films.