Tokyo Sonata is nothing if not ambitious. In following the travails of a middle class family it aims to paint a portrait of modern Japan. It sets out to encompass the plight of middle managers who are the first to go in difficult times and the least qualified to find other work, the nature of family affairs in which social expectations about gender roles and duties stifle both men and women, the United States - Japan alliance and what it means for young people and many other similarly weighty social matters.
Unfortunately in doing so it's bitten off more than it can chew - while some thematic elements find themselves well serviced others fall by the wayside and the average scripting is not up to the task of coping with some of the more esoteric strands. Similarly, while the family's secrets and multiple falls from grace are fairly well plotted, their final bottoming out and eventual acceptance of their new roles is clumsily handled via some unnecessary and tonally jarring plot mechanics.
Still, Kurosawa's direction of his ultimately awkward scenario is never any less than assured. Astutely chosen framing and lighting turn otherwise unremarkable office blocks and bus stations in to cut-rate versions of purgatory and many of the confrontations at home are choreographed elegantly; employing depth staging to quiet effect.