“Miami Vice” shattered the small screens of rican culture in the ’80s. Aside from the title, “Tokyo Vice” by the same creator has nothing to do with it.
It’s been a long time since Michael Mann ditched the Hawaiian shirts and tinted lenses of the California sunset “Miami Vice” (1983-1989). At almost 80 years old, the Chicago native no longer has to prove his quality as a major filmmaker, the last of the Mohicans who “Heat” in “Collateral” was able to recover without ever losing its aesthetic identity.
His biographer Jean-Baptiste Thoret considers him a tightrope walker, always on the border between popular cinema and formal experiments. And his laboratory, he adds in Mirages du contemporain (Éd. Flammarion), is television. Obsessed with dehumanized megapolises and their lonely heroes, the director returns to his first love in Tokyo Vice.
Tokyo is not Miami
For the anecdote, the nod to “Miami Vice” is just a coincidence, but the critical spirit that was barely hidden beneath the soap opera’s kitsch vision of an America that had just re-elected Ronald Reagan remains. The series is loosely based on the 2009 autobiography of Jake Adelstein, who hails from a pale Missouri and tells of his immersion in Japanese culture as a gifted and polyglot young reporter, managing to get hired by the police and the judiciary, according to the respected daily newspaper Tokyo Meicho Shimbo.
This unprecedented quality, a first for a Westerner, refreshes in itself the old canvas of mafia investigations, conducted head-on by the press and police, as often deciphered by the generation of From PalmaCimino and other Pollack in the 70’s The actor of “Tokyo Vice”, Ansel Elgort, exudes an outspoken seduction quite comparable to that of Robert Redford at the time. But the action takes place here twenty years later.
The investigator digs into a string of suicides, all of whose victims negotiated loans to a banking company. Very quickly, Jake understands the monstrous scheme: under pressure from the debtor, these common people are pushed to kill themselves in order to release the money from their life insurance.
Once again at the forefront of the contemporary world, Michael Mann succeeds in putting human faces on the anonymous masses of Japan, which in their global impact are often viewed as a mysterious economic entity. The pilot of the series, which he directed, recreates this sense of disorientation with elegant sobriety.
At the same time, the hero, who is brewing to survive in a microcosm whose codes he must absorb, experiences the loss of orientation even in the everyday environment of citizens affected by a fraud that overwhelms them. All the firepower tattooed by the Yakusas. The director, often referred to, with a bit of irony, as a “stylistic guru”, materializes this plunge into urban hell by relying on a blue-dominated palette, a chromatic fetish from his early films. Here, too, Thoret’s study is reminiscent of the influence of the painter Vassily Kandinsky to “man”, the use of blue as a sign of “man’s attraction to infinity, the awakening to nostalgia of the pure and the ultimate ultra-sensitive”.
But unlike the flamingos on a backdrop of turquoise water that are so dear to “Miami Vice,” “Tokyo Vice” anchors the color in its most icy tonality, an ocean of bluish and gray waves that attack with their dull torpor, without more No notion of day or night. Is it Tokyo that wields this power and dissolves time? Sofia Coppola had already given a sample of it “Lost in Translation” but here Jake speaks the language of the Yakusas perfectly and knows the danger of his adventure.
Without reaching the sensory shift pursued in ‘Sixth Sense,’ that 1986 TV movie that pushed Michael Mann toward the pure seventh art and introduced the carnivorous Hannibal Lecter, ‘Tokyo Vice’ also shows the shackles of an American Crime series have evolved towards sophistication. What yesterday was still considered visionary in the general banality now touches on classicism.
“Tokyo Vice” Channel Plus, 8×60′.
Cecile Lecoultreof Belgian origin, graduate of the University of Brussels in Art History and Archaeology, has been writing in the Culture Department since 1985. She has a passion for literature and cinema…among others!More information
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