Suicide Club (Jisatsu saakuru) (2002) • Japan • Sion Sono

This is one of the funniest albeit confounding movies I have seen in a long long time. It's ridiculous to argue this movie is a mature and well-thought out essay on contemporary culture with an emphasis on the problem of teen suicide.

The Writer/Director is a skilled artist in the vein of Kim Ki-Duk. Both take a subject and present images on film that touch on that subject. They are intentionally ambiguous and incomplete. Thank gosh they don't find it all that interesting to hold our hands from start to finish. If Sion, or Kim in his films, wanted to make a great big point they should do it differently—or else they are just plain bad at making points.

Is it creepy and gross that 50 high school girls throw themselves in front of a train? Maybe. But it's so over the top it's funny; blood flying everywhere. Later the kids joke about the train skidding along on "Human Grease." Eeeeewwwww! When the kids jump off the school building, you can actually see stage hands tossing buckets of blood at the windows! Watch the scene where the detectives are at the station trying to prevent the next mass suicide. It's all comedy. "Do you have a tattoo?" ... "NO she doesn't. I've seen her naked." One detective yawns long and wide. The oldest guy plays the perv when he sees a girl with a tattoo on her chest, but it's the young guy who complains: "Cheap tattoos, everyone's got 'em these days." It's that young detective who is the comedy relief throughout the film, ready to call ralph on the big white phone at any time.

I could go on and on. I will say that the middle section, with what many have described as Rocky-Horror meets Clockwork Orange, isn't all that funny, except Genesis, himself, is a laugh riot. He sings "Because the Dead .... shine all night long" in English, with a lisp, and it's hysterical. That whole scene is a modern dance masterpiece. OK OK rape is not funny and stomping on little kittens upsets me, but that's the schlock factor. A genre cliché. A childish move thrown in to appease the non-thinkers.

Speaking of genre clichés, when Detective Kuroda comes home for the first time, his wife gets a lot of face time while the day-time soap opera music sets the mood. What was the point of that except comedy? All three songs by the pre-teen pop group Dessert, Desert, are as good as you can get. They are catchy and funny. This is a happy film with a happy ending. A connection is finally made between young and old, the pop group's work is done and the most suicidal of the teenagers, the one whose boyfriend surprises her by landing on her when he jumps off a building in a suicide attempt, but doesn't die until he's had time to discuss the irony of the event with her, (tell me that isn't pure comic genius), she doesn't commit suicide. She takes the train home like a good kid. She's the one who delivers the line: If your woman had a bent nose would you ask her why?

The kid who coughs after every sentence when he speaks over the phone to the detectives, it doesn't mean anything, it doesn't imply anything. It was not one of the Dessert girls trying to disguise her voice, it was just plain creepy for the sake of being creepy. It creeped me out and it's a perfect example of one of those things that just screams for some profound interpretation when there isn't one.


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