Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda
Stephen Schible’s meditative documentary Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is a welcome profile on the titular Oscar-winning composer, a figure largely unknown outside of specialized pockets of the music and film community.
Though the film weaves in Sakamoto's standout themes from The Revenant, The Last Emperor and The Sheltering Sky with accompanying footage and behind-the-scenes anecdotes from those productions and others, it’s primarily a fairly deep dive into his artistic process, which, though occasionally impenetrable, is generally a wonder to behold.
Also key is Sakamoto’s terminal cancer diagnosis, alluded to in the film’s title, which drives him to create meaningful work in his final days and grants the entire project a sense of urgency.
By the end, one is glad to have spent some time with this remarkable individual and come away with a strong sense of who he is and what drives him, though Coda's soulful pacing and the solitary nature of Sakamoto’s work limits the film’s potential reach and seems destined to keep its subject in the aforementioned cultural corners.
Grade: B. Not rated, but with some adult themes and imagery. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo by Neo Sora, courtesy of MUBI)