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Until The Lights Come Back

The many faces of Daiteiden no Yoru ni.
Japanese: Daiteiden no Yoru ni  
Year: 2005  
Director: Takashi Minamoto  
Producer: Miyako Araki  
  Cast: Kanata Hongo, Yu Kashii, Tomorowo Taguchi, Haruka Igawa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Toru Shinagawa, Tomoko Tabata, Koji Kikkawa, Shinobu Terajima, Ken Utsui, Chikage Awashima, Tsuyoshi Abe, Tomoyo Harada
  The Skinny: Wonderfully constructed ensemble piece detailing the interconnected lives of twelve Tokyo city-dwellers in the midst of a massive blackout.
Review by Calvin McMillin:      Over the years, the idea of taking ordinary people and throwing them into extraordinary circumstances has served as a compelling storytelling device for filmmakers worldwide, and the extraordinary circumstance of Until The Lights Come Back (AKA Daiteiden no Yoru ni) proves to be no exception, as it follows the lives of twelve ordinary souls who find themselves in the midst of a massive Tokyo blackout after a falling satellite crashes into a power station. Oh yeah, it's also Christmas Eve.
     With the blackout as a jumping-off point, director Takashi Minamoto weaves together a number of different tales - so many, in fact, that you might need a scorecard. First off, there's the fresh-out-of-prison Gingi (Koji Kikkawa), who looks up the only girl he ever loved, only to learn that she's already married, has a kid, and has one more on the way. And yep, you guessed it, she's gone into labor during the blackout while they're both trapped in a crowded subway train.
     Next, there's a fourteen-year-old kid named Shota (Kanata Hongo), who runs into Maiko (Yu Kashii), a seemingly suicidal supermodel (say that three times fast!), who just so happens to harbor a depressing secret. Then there's Saeki (Tomorowo Taguchi), who is experiencing some serious marriage problems with his wife (Tomoyo Harada), has just ended his relationship with his mistress, Misuzo (Haruka Igawa), and even learns a shocking secret about the identity of his mother from his dying father.
     In addition, there's the story of a candlemaker named Nozomi (Tomoko Tabata) who has a crush on Shinichi (Etsushi Toyogawa), the bar owner across the street who has some serious love problems of his own. And as if that weren't enough, the film also follows jilted lover Misuzo as she finds herself stuck in an elevator with a Chinese bellboy who's got a girl back in Shanghai. Oh, and there's the otherwise respectable elderly gent who hotwires a classic Ford Mustang after his wife drops a bombshell about her past. And then there's - well, it's all getting a bit much for summary, isn't it?
     Truth be told, the sheer number of characters and intersecting storylines of Until The Lights Come Back seems a bit overwhelming at first, but as the story develops, each of the characters begin to come alive in the darkness, as do their various tales of complicated romance. EVERYTHING is connected or will connect in the Until The Lights Come Back, and thankfully, it never comes across as too cute or overly precious. There are many surprises, both big and small, in store for viewers, none of which I plan to spoil here in the review. It's best they be discovered and enjoyed firsthand.
     When all is said and done, Until The Lights Come Back is a quiet, introspective film that sneaks up on you, as it laments lost loves, exposes long-buried secrets, and celebrates life's little coincidences. It's a romantic movie, but by no means in the traditional sense. The various potential couplings that the audience will find themselves rooting for do not come to pass by story's end. It's a movie about new beginnings and second chances. And while it may or may not be a Christmas classic in the making, it's a movie that may just deliver increasing returns upon repeated viewings over a viewer's lifetime, as one lives, loves, and loses right along with the characters. And like the protagonists of the film, perhaps it's a movie best appreciated with a companion by candlelight. (Calvin McMillin, 2006)
Availability: DVD (JPN)
Region 2 NTSC
Asmik Ace Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Japanese Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Japanese Subtitles
Audio Commentary, Movie Reports, Behind the Scenes Footage, Monologues, Film Festival Footage, Trailers, and TV Spot
   Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen