The story of a lonely man who briefly finds happiness, this latest film from Japanese director Jun Ichikawa unfolds as if it were a parable, but is so oblique that any greater meaning is unclear. What remains, however, is a strangely involving portrait of loneliness, alienation, obsession, and grief, presented in a beautifully minimal, even austere style. Based on a story by Haruki Murakami, the plot is simple, if incongruous-sounding: Raised by a frequently absent father, a reserved, emotionally self-contained, middle-aged illustrator (Issey Ogata, in a terrific performance) falls in love with a young woman (Rie Miyazawa, also good) who proves the perfect wife -- except for her addiction to clothes shopping. Dialogue is sparse, and the story is related chiefly in third-person, voice-over narration. Scenes are joined not by traditional edits or wipes, but by the camera tracking right -- past two or three seconds of either black or light gray -- until it arrives at the next scene. Also unorthodox: Both actors appear in two roles.