Takeshi "Beat" Kitano got his start as a comedian in Japan, before his movie transformation into the familiar deadeyed killer. "Kikujiro" shows that he has not forgotten his roots. Here, the two Takeshi's blend in the character of an ex-Yakuza, who may not have a heart of gold, but at least bronze. Together with the gloomiest boy in Japan, they head off in a traditional road movie full of bumbles and discoveries.
"Kikujiro" is an incredibly sweet and of-kilter film. Quirky, subtly humorous, at times intense and disturbing, at times charming and disarming, Takeshi guides the film across the winding course of its plot, encountering a host of equally odd characters and situations. A woman juggler and her boyfriend the human robot, the fat and skinny bikers and the hippy thief all join in the journey with our odd couple. With each additional cast member, the story takes another unexpected twist.
While a comedy, don't expect any gut-busting laughs. The humor is more bizarre and situational, the laughs are more smirks and good feelings. The pace is slow and patient, taking a long time to build the story and the characters.
The images are beautiful, and the director takes some chances with his camera work that all work out well. "Kikujiro" is daring in its own way, while remaining heartwarming and affectionate.
An excellent, highly recommended film.