Achilles and the Tortoise

Achilles and the Tortoise

Directed By: Takeshi Kitano


This is, I think, the most successful of “Beat” Takeshi’s recent films regarding his life and his art. The final part of a planned trilogy (joining Glory to the Filmmaker and Takeshis), this flick playfully satirizes Kitano’s penchant for painting, tracing his development from childhood, through art school, to middle age. The title is explained in a cheesy, amusing animation, elucidating Xeno’s paradox about the infinite splitting of fractions. It provides the sense of a journey that’s never quite completed, a journey that Kitano explores with subtlety and wit.

From the earliest moments, the central character is obsessively creating art, much to the chagrin of those surrounding him. This compulsion results in a staggering collection of pieces, starting with child-like original works early on, only to find with experience and exposure to other masters a creeping plagiarism.

The search for originality without copying others is a central theme, along with the (shockingly literal) demonstration of suffering for one’s art. There is sadness and pity in the tale, but it’s told with such a light and playful touch that it’s hard not succumbing to the charms of even the most disturbing of scenes.

Quirky and joyous, and most importantly accessible, this is a masterfully crafted film by a unique and original filmmaker at the top of his game.

Grade: A-


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