Sakiko

Sakiko
Sakiko film poster.png
Theatrical wide release poster
Directed byEmiko Yamamura
Produced byEmiko Yamamura
Haruhiro Hayata
Kaoruko Saeki
Sumie Sarudate
Written byEmiko Yamamura
Daizou Ouhori
Screenplay byEmiko Yamamura
Daizou Ouhori
Eiitirou Kido
StarringEmiko Yamamura
Tarou Umebayasi
Naoko Dokite
Haruo Haida
Goro Miyazawa
Sukemasa Bandou
Music byZoutarou Kazikawa
CinematographyIwao Ganaha
Edited byTukiko Inoue
Osamu Anai
Production
company
Distributed byTakasiyama Motion Pictures
Release date
Running time
144 minutes
CountrySenria
LanguageSenrian
Budget€11.4 million
Box office€134.9 million

Sakiko (Senrian: 싸끼꼬, Sakiko) is a 2007 Senrian dark comedy directed by and starring Emiko Yamamura, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film. Also starring Tarou Umebayasi, Naoko Dokite, Haruo Haida, Goro Miyazawa, and Sukemasa Bandou, the movie's plot follows Sakiko Masuya, a career woman who feels trapped by her loveless arranged marriage, overbearing mother, abusive bosses, dead-end job, and a general sense of ennui.

Sakiko premiered on October 12, 2007, at the 2007 Montecara Film Festival, and was the seventh Senrian film to win the festival's grand prize, the Béco aùreo. It also won [further accolades once kylaris has film accolades other than the beco aureo].

The film saw a subsequent wide cinematic release in Senria on October 26 and a global release on November 16. Making €134.9 million worldwide against a production budget of €11.4 million, the film was considered a box office success, and remains one of the highest-grossing domestic films in Senria. The film was also received positively by critics both in Senria and globally, with praise going to the narrative, Yamamura's direction and production, the interactions between the lead characters, and Zoutarou Kazikawa's soundtrack.

Plot

Sakiko Masuya (Yamamura) is a career woman who lives in Keisi and works in the accounting department of a consumer electronics company. She is in an arranged marriage with an intelligent but lackadaisical man named Ryuuta (Umebayasi), who works as a salaryman for a prominent bank; while they have been married for five years, Sakiko feels no love for Ryuuta and is frustrated by his lack of ambition. Nonetheless, Sakiko feels compelled to feign a loving relationship with Ryuuta due to the influence of her imperious mother, Kotoe (Mizuta), who routinely interferes in her daughter's affairs. One evening, following dinner, Sakiko and Ryuuta begin to drink heavily, and both admit to the other that they are not in love. Sakiko drunkenly proposes that they allow each other to pursue extramarital affairs; Ryuuta agrees, but fears that Kotoe will find out. Sakiko vows to deal with her mother should she discover their arrangement.

The next morning, Sakiko and Ryuuta head to work. Ryuuta begins to flirt with an office lady, Aiko, who reciprocates his interest. Sakiko, meanwhile, faces sexist abuse from her boss, Masasige Niwata (Miyazawa), and his lackey Azumo (Tanaka). Sakiko snaps and yells at Azumo in front of her coworkers; Masasige responds by threatening to fire her, forcing her to back down and apologize; even after she does, Masasige states he will do everything in his power to prevent her getting any raises or promotions as retaliation. During lunch break, Sakiko vents her frustrations to her co-worker Hanako (Dokite) and to Tadanobu (Haida), an employee of the company's IT department who has a crush on Sakiko but is too shy to confess. Hanako vows to help Sakiko get revenge, and tells her and Tadanobu to meet her at an upcoming corporate party, to be held at a high-end restaurant.

Arriving at the restaurant for the corporate party, Sakiko discovers that, by chance, Ryuuta has arranged a date with Aiko at the same restaurant. Aiko is shocked to discover that Ryuuta is married, but agrees to continue her relationship with him after Sakiko explains their arrangement. Azumo sees Sakiko talking with Ryuuta and Aiko and, seeking material with which to harass her as retaliation for her yelling at him, takes several photos of the three talking with his cell phone. At the party, Hanako tells Sakiko that she has gotten several other employees - including office gossip Nanase (Isimura), marketing liaison Rumiko (Higa), and perky Sakura (Obara) - on board with their scheme to obtain revenge on Masasige and Azumo. Later that evening, Sakiko meets Raizou Sikayama (Bandou), the company's chief financial officer and son of the company's CEO; she flirts with Raizou, and the two subsequently leave the party, go to a luxury hotel, and have sex. Tadanobu, having seen Sakiko and Raizou leave the party together, panics and runs to Hanako; Hanako tells Tadanobu it is his fault for failing to pursue Sakiko more aggressively.

The following day, Sakiko and her coworkers begin to work on their scheme. Sakiko cajoles Ryuuta into, with Aiko's help, making a bank account for a non-existent individual named "Itirou Suzuki". Sakiko and her coworkers plan to regularly divert small amounts of company money into the account, eventually laundering it and distributing it amongst themselves, while fabricating evidence linking the suspicious transactions to Masasige. Sakura sycophantically praises Masasige long enough for Hanako to steal his company password and bank information, which will allow them to divert the money in his name, sending it to his bank account before sending it to "Suzuki"'s. Azumo finds Kotoe's address in the phonebook and mails her printed versions of the incriminating photos of Sakiko, Ryuuta, and Aiko; the following day, Sakiko returns from work to discover Kotoe waiting for her outside her apartment. Kotoe berates Sakiko, calling her a disobedient failure and a disgrace to the family; Sakiko, enraged, accuses Kotoe of failing as a mother and claims to be having a dozen affairs behind Ryuuta's back, which causes Kotoe to suffer a fatal heart attack. Sakiko steals Kotoe's car, putting her mother's corpse in the trunk, and drives it back to Kotoe's house in the countryside, leaving her body in her bedroom before driving back to Keisi.

Shortly thereafter, Tadanobu finally works up the courage to arrange a date with Sakiko. The date initially goes well, with the two heading to a love hotel and having sex; afterwards, Sakiko confesses that she does not have any romantic feelings for Tadanobu. Tadanobu, dejected, leaves the hotel in the middle of the night and, on the way back to his apartment, calls Hanako and relays to her the night's events; Hanako, acting less acerbic than usual, offers Tadanobu her sympathy and tells him that sometimes things simply don't work out.

Sakiko, now a month into the scheme to frame Masasige for embezzlement, accidentally makes a transaction of ¥10 million (~€100,000) into "Suzuki"'s bank account. Fearing the transaction will be noticed, Sakiko and her coworkers resolve to create a distraction; Sakiko and Hanako make small talk with Tadanobu long enough for Nanase, Sakura, and Rumiko to sneak into the IT department's server room and destroy it. In spite of this, the transaction - and the smaller transactions made over the preceding month - are discovered by Masasige's loyal secretary, Himeko (Deguti), who also links the transactions to Sakiko and her coworkers. Unable to reach him by phone, Himeko attempts to head to Masasige's house in order to inform him of the scheme; on the way there, however, she is pushed into the path of an oncoming Metro train by a Euclean tourist, killing her. The following day, Nanase "discovers" the large transaction and begins to aggressively spread gossip that Masasige has been embezzling company funds, making him the center of suspicion; unable to clear himself of suspicion, Masasige commits suicide by jumping through his office window.

Sakiko continues her affair with Raizou. Raizou lets slip that he and Azumo - who has succeeded Masasige as Sakiko's boss - will be meeting for a nou performance and a business discussion in a week. Sakiko and her colleagues begin to fabricate a report from the company's Asterian division claiming that the government of Marirana is soon to announce the discovery of large, previously-unknown reserves of lithium and cobalt, which would drastically reduce the manufacturing cost of the expensive electronics components necessary for the consumer electronics the company makes. They plan to leave the forged report on Azumo's desk, with the hopes that he will present it to Raizou at their meeting; Raizou, in turn, will convince the company to increase production of these components and, by extension, to increase the production and projected sales figures of their products. When no such announcement materializes, the group expects that Raizou - who, as the son of the CEO, is beyond reproach - will pin the blame on Azumo, using him as a scapegoat. While they work on the plan, Hanako begins to publicly flirt with Tadanobu. A little more than a week later, Raizou invites Sakiko on a dinner date, where he tells her about the supposed report from the Asterian division, and says he has advised the board to ramp up production in preparation for the drop in lithium and cobalt prices.

A few days later, Raizou storms into the accounting department and demands to see Azumo. Raizou states that he reached out to the company's Asterian division, who in turn contacted the Mariranan government, who insisted that no new deposits of lithium or cobalt had been discovered; he angrily accuses Azumo of fabricating the report in the hopes of sucking up to him and, in front of the assembled employees, fires Azumo, humiliating him. Azumo, desperate to keep his job, frantically claims that he has been framed by his subordinates, singling out Sakiko by name, but this only enrages Raizou further; Raizou tells Azumo to never speak ill of Sakiko again, then physically drags him away and throws him into a waiting elevator. Sakiko and her coworkers celebrate their scheme's success.

Two months later, Sakiko has been promoted to the position once held by Masasige and Azumo; she and her co-conspirators have successfully laundered the money in "Suzuki"'s account and split it among themselves, and the working environment in the office has improved significantly with Masasige and Azumo gone. It is revealed that Hanako and Tadanobu have become engaged, having grown increasingly close after Tadanobu's failed date with Sakiko. Sakiko decides to leave work early; on the way home she passes Ryuuta, from whom she has amicably divorced, and Aiko, who is now his fiancee. She returns home, having moved out of her small apartment and into a spacious condominium, and finds Raizou waiting for her. Raizou reveals an engagement ring and proposes to her. Sakiko admits that she does not love him and is only interested in him because of his position; he admits that he is only interested in her for conversation and sex. She accepts his proposal and the two kiss.

Cast

Emiko Yamamura as Sakiko Masuya.
  • Emiko Yamamura as Sakiko Masuya, a career woman who feels trapped by her circumstances
  • Tarou Umebayasi as Ryuuta Masuya, a salaryman and Sakiko's intelligent but lackadaiscal husband
  • Naoko Dokite as Hanako Ebihara, one of Sakiko's coworkers, perceptive and cynical by nature
  • Haruo Haida as Tadanobu Rokuda, an assiduous but reticent IT worker with a crush on Sakiko
  • Goro Miyazawa as Masasige Niwata, Sakiko's crude and imperious boss
  • Sukemasa Bandou as Raizou Sikayama, the chief financial officer of the company where Sakiko works
  • Yui Tanida as Aiko Takahide, an office lady at Ryuuta's office
  • Minoru Tanaka as Azumo Moriyama, Masasige's obsequious and neurotic lackey
  • Eiko Mizuta as Kotoe Nagahata, Sakiko's overbearing mother
  • Saori Isimura as Nanase Mihune, one of Sakiko's coworkers, known as the office gossip
  • Ayuka Obara as Sakura Arai, one of Sakiko's coworkers, vivacious and fawning but secretly devious
  • Koharu Higa as Rumiko Iimura, a liaison from the marketing department, level-headed and strong-willed
  • Rituko Deguti as Himeko Tihaya, Masasige's dutiful and loyal secretary

Production

Development, writing, and casting

Emiko Yamamura stated, shortly after the film's release, that the idea for Sakiko was based upon her own experiences as a career woman:

Before I began trying to work in film, in 1994 or so, I worked as a career woman in the accounting department of a major Senrian company, who I think would prefer if I did not name them, and many of my bosses at this company were very much like the characters of Masasige Niwata and Azumo Moriyama. They would belittle their employees, especially the women, knowing that we could not respond or we would risk our careers; they would make crude remarks, grope us, and generally push us around. So what the character Sakiko does, in getting revenge on her bosses for their abuse, was admittedly something of a fantasy of mine at the time, and I think a fantasy of many of my coworkers and of many women who have had similar experiences. Eventually I got so sick of this treatment I decided to take the risk of trying to become an actress, which worked out, luckily, but those memories and the idea of telling a story based on them was always there in my head, from the moment I entered filmmaking.

Yamamura said that she proposed the concept to directors and screenwriters a few times in the 1990s, and that many were intrigued by the concept, but that she was not taken seriously as a writer or potential director until after the success of 2003's Once Nothing Remains, which she co-authored the screenplay of and starred in. Insisting on being able to play a role in the film's direction, production, and writing, she eventually reached an agreement with Senzouyama Visual for the film's production.

Yamamura began to write a treatment for Sakiko in 2004; as she was concurrently busy with principal photography for the film Kuroneko and for the television drama Learning the Language of the Flowers, she relied on assistance from Daizou Ouhori, who had worked with Yamamura on the screenplay for Once Nothing Remains, to complete the treatment. Beginning work on the film's script after the February 2005 release of Kuroneko, Ouhori also enlisted the help of Eiitirou Kido, who had written the script of 2002 Béco aùreo winner Ni Suri and who Ouhori had worked with multiple occasions in the past; Kido, who had worked for a major insurance firm throughout much of the 1980s, drew from his own experiences in the job when working on the script.

Initial drafts of the screenplay were, according to a 2009 interview with Ouhori, shorter than the final product; as the draft was refined the importance of Tadanobu and Raizou to the plot was increased, as was the role of Azumo, who initially appeared only in a handful of scenes. Earlier drafts of the script also featured some characters who did not appear in the final work; one, named Manaka, was a college friend of Sakiko who would egg on her efforts to get revenge on her bosses, while another, named Azuki, was Raizou's fiancee and a final obstacle for Sakiko. These characters were ultimately deemed superfluous and removed. In treatments from early 2005, Sakiko and her colleagues worked for an import-export company with close ties to Asterian agribusiness; instead of fabricating a report claiming the discovery of new reserves of lithium and cobalt, these treatments had Sakiko and her coworkers fabricate reports of a severe frost damaging citrus crops in Marirana. Yamamura explained that the change to Sakiko working for a consumer electronics company was made on the grounds that "Senria is now a country of industry and electronics... having the company be a manufacturer of electronics seemed more fitting than it being a company which imported oranges".

Komatu Insurance Building was used as Sakiko's place of employment.

Yamamura has said that it was always her intent to play the part of Sakiko herself, and wanted Naoko Dokite and Haruo Haida, with whom she had worked on Learning the Language of the Flowers and Bullets in the Rain, respectively, for Hanako and Tadanobu. Producer Haruhiro Hayata recommended Goro Miyazawa for the part of Masasige; Yamamura was initially skeptical, as Miyazawa had been largely typecast in respectable, fatherly roles, but was impressed with his audition and assented to his casting. Sukemasa Bandou initially auditioned for the role of Ryuuta, but the film's writers and producers agreed that he was a better fit for the character of Raizou; the role of Ryuuta was ultimately filled by Tarou Umebayasi, who was recommended by the studio.

Filming and cinematography

The film's director of photography was Iwao Ganaha, who had previously worked on Eien ni, Ocean Grey, and Black, Blue, White. Principal photography took place in 2006, lasting a total of 137 days.

Filming took place primarily in Keisi, either at Senzouyama Visual's Kasiwara studio or on location; the city's skyline is visible in several shots. Most indoor scenes - including those in Sakiko's apartment, the restaurant which hosts the corporate party, the hotel where Sakiko and Raizou have sex, and the love hotel that Sakiko and Tadanobu visit - were sets constructed at the Kasiwara studio. However, some filming of interior shots occurred on location; the Komatu Insurance Building provided both interior and exterior shots of Sakiko's place of work (with the exception of a handful of scenes, including the server room scene, that were filmed at the studio), and the recently-constructed Kasumigaseki Tower was used for Ryuuta's place of work. The filming of Himeko's death scene occurred at the Odakyuu ghost station of the Keisi Metro. The building used as Kotoe's house is located in rural Tukayama Prefecture; filming at this location was the only filming to occur outside of Greater Metropolitan Keisi. A scene showing Raizou and Azumo's meeting at the nou performance was filmed at the Tomigaya Nou and Kyougen Theater, but ultimately cut from the film; nonetheless, the theater was included in the special thanks section of the film's credits.

Music and sound design

Themes

Marketing

Release

Reception

Box office

Critical response

Accolades