THE POSTER for "Living on Tokyo Time" implies a fizzy, '80s kind of film, super-mod, mondo-trendy -- something for the cool circle.

Naaaa. Steven Okazaki's film (humbly shot) is about a drab sort-of affair between two drab sort-of people. When things go sour in her life, Kyoko (Minako Ohashi) decides to leave Tokyo for America. She gets a dishwashing job in a Japanese restaurant in San Francisco and dutifully studies English in her room at the Y. Problem: Her visa is going to expire. She learns she can qualify for permanent residence by marrying new friend Ken.

Ah, Ken. More vacant than the Barbie boy. He's a second-generation Japanese-American, with no knowledge of his mother tongue or culture. He talks in listless monotone and works in a dead-end job with a gimpy set of buddies. His sagging, blase' facial expression suggests an owl near death. If he shows excitement for anything, it's his punk band -- which will never make it out of the basement.

Mr. Listless (Ken Nakagawa) agrees to do her the marital favor. But after she moves in (separate bedrooms), he finds her rather cute. Jolted out of somnabulance, he falls in love with her -- at least as best he can. She only likes him as a friend, however. And the questions abound: Will Kyoko fall in love with Ken? Is Ken on barbiturates? Could this dialogue be made even more hollow? Are we there yet?


At the West End 5-7.