Cinequest 2024 – One Night in Tokyo

This one of a series of reviews from this year’s Cinequest film festival in San Jose, California. Read more about the festival here, and buy tickets for showings of this and other films here.

Sam arrives in Tokyo to visit his expat girlfriend Becca – only to be broken up with as soon as he finds his way to her apartment. Out on the streets of Tokyo alone, he decides to cut his trip short and return to America the next day.

Stuck for the night while he waits for his new flight, Sam makes an unlikely friend in Ayaka, who reluctantly takes him out with her friends.They both struggle to communicate due to their language barrier but are forced to rely on each other when betrayal sends their worlds crashing down. Walking through the streets of Tokyo together, they must not only overcome obstacles to understand each other, but must also break down their own walls to understand themselves.

What do you do when you arrive in Tokyo for a week and immediately your girlfriend breaks up with you?   If you are Sam, you rebook your flight, so you leave for New York the next day.   In the meantime, another friend of Sam’s, Jun, suggests that Sam hangs out with Jun’s friend, Ayaka. Sam does not speak Japanese and Ayaka knows very little English.

The movie spends too much time with Sam, Ayaka, and Ayaka’s friends hanging out in a restaurant. Ayaka and her friends are all speaking in Japanese, while Sam tries to fit in. One of the friends knows some English and tries to translate for Sam. The movie has subtitles, but you still get a feeling of isolation and unreality for Sam.

After leaving the restaurant, Ayaka and Sam make a startling discovery, and end up in a bar.  They finally figure out that their phone can translate for them and they start to become friends. They spend the rest of the night wandering around Tokyo sharing parts of themselves and having small adventures.  Tokyo seems to be another large City that never sleeps.

One Night in Tokyo is an interesting movie, and the actors did a great job of portraying these characters. Sam was played by Reza Emarmiyeh and Ayaka by Tokiko Kitagawa. The director/writer/producer, Joshua Woodcock, with Emarmiyeh, Kitagawa and cast attended the Cinequest screening. The movie was shot in 7 days in Tokyo, which I think gave the actors a reason to look tired!  Although in the movie, Sam does not speak Japanese, Emarmiyeh actually does.   

Unfortunately no additional live shows but you can watch One Night in Tokyo online through Cinejoy.

Debbie Bretschneider
March 12, 2024
San Jose, California

This entry was posted in Cinequest, Entertainment, Film, Media, Movies, Review, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prove you're not a robot! * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.