When Tony Takitani learns to draw, a teacher tells him ‘you’re good, but I don’t feel any warmth’. You’d be forgiven for thinking the same of a film whose stately, slow-panning medium shots, muted stone-and-earth palette, spare piano accompaniment and measured, distancing voiceover seem calculated to cool the blood. Yet it’s a mode perfectly suited to its subject. Adapted from a short story by Haruki Murakami, ‘Tony Takitani’ is about a soul regretfully acclimatised to solitude: born after the war and given a Western name by his forward-looking but misguided father, Tony (Issey Ogata) struggles to make friends, develops an aptitude for technical illustration and eventually meets a young woman (Rie Miyazawa) whose passion for fashion mirrors his own fetishistic fascination with the look of things. There are shades of ‘Vertigo’ in what follows, but where Hitchcock charted the sacrifice of the self on the altar of romantic obsession, Jun Ichikawa stresses Murakami’s characters’ acute and seemingly insuperable atomisation – an alienation slightly undermined by the gimmick of having them speak a line from the narration out loud every so often. But this is a small reservation in a moving, expressive and refreshingly unsentimental film whose compact running time reflects the quiet efficiency of its narrative, characterisation and mise en scène.