One Night in Tokyo Image

One Night in Tokyo

By Alan Ng | March 1, 2024

Finding your soulmate is a million-to-one proposition. Finding your soulmate halfway around the world is like shooting a bullet with a bullet. In Joshua Woodcock’s One Night in Tokyo, he takes our hero and drops him in the middle of Tokyo without a life-preserver or translator, for that matter, and just lets love happen.

Sam (Reza Emamiyeh) is an American who just landed in Tokyo to spend time with his long-distance girlfriend, Becca (Cailee Oliver). Considering Sam flew halfway around the world, Becca decides it’s best to take this face-to-face moment and break up with Sam. Thanks…

Visibly shaken by the break-up, Sam meets up with his friend Jun (Shinichiro Watanabe), who plans to meet for after-hours drinks with Sam and Jun’s girlfriend Ayaka (Tokiko Kitagawa). Jun is not there when Sam shows up, and his girlfriend Ayaka plays host, considering that neither of them speaks each other’s language. Fortunately, one of Ayaka’s friends knows a little bit of English so as not to make Sam feel wholly left out.

After the awkward dinner, Ayaka takes Sam back to her and Jun’s apartment so she can pay back Sam for dinner. Upon arrival, the pair discovers that Jun and Becca have been having an affair with each other. Ayaka storms off, and Sam follows her to a nearby bar for much-needed drinks. Visibly hurt, the two sulk together, unable to speak to one another…that is until Sam realizes that if they swap phones and open a translator app, they can finally understand one another and commiserate properly.

“Upon arrival, the pair discovers that Jun and Becca have been having an affair with each other.”

One Night in Tokyo is a charming romance that claws its way across the language barrier. What is interesting about writer/director Woodcock’s take on love is how he manages to cross cultures to find how much we have in common. As much as the film is about our differences, as humans, our experiences are virtually the same, yet with a cultural overlay applied.

As mentioned before, Woodcock concocted a way for Sam and Ayaka to communicate by using their cell phones as translators. Love works in mysterious ways along with their cellphones, as you hardly see them looking at them throughout the film. OK. Love is magic, and we can let them pass.

The charm of One Night in Tokyo is how Wookcock builds this relationship to the end. He first takes his character through an extreme shared experience with the affairs, and as both suffer through their loss and share their betrayal, it opens a gateway into each other’s hearts.

The film is essentially a two-hander as Sam and Ayaka wander the streets of Tokyo together through all hours of the night. Romance is tough to pull off from a writer’s standpoint as it requires bringing our lovers together in a fresh and believable way. A challenge that filmmaker Woodcock faces admirably.

In the film, Reza Emamiyeh and Tokiko Kitagawa deliver fantastic performances. Despite the long-distance element of the romance, their chemistry is undeniable, and you can’t help but root for them to be together in the end. What’s more, just like Sam and Ayaka, we hardly know either character at first, but their love story will leave you utterly captivated and falling deeply in love with them.

One Night in Tokyo (2024)

Directed and Written: Joshua Woodcock

Starring: Reza Emamiyeh, Tokiko Kitagawa, Cailee Oliver, Shinichiro Watanabe, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

One Night in Tokyo Image

"…their chemistry is undeniable, and you can't help but root for them..."

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