M [2006] • Japan

A whole lot of twisted psycho-sexual drama going on here. A young woman has this made up story in her head about when she was a kid and her neighbor's father shagged her mom inducing her to start dating the boy next door as an excuse to be close to the father, but when the boy finds out the truth of her motivation he kills his mom and dad and she feels complicit. To atone for this Freudian guilt over something that didn't happen she takes on a Yakuza pimp, in that fucked up way that people do, to mistreat and abuse her, in that fucked up way that people do. We are given the possibility that all of these things are just fantasies of the young woman's impotent but well-meaning husband, but so what? What if? Doesn't change much of the experience for the viewer.

Meanwhile, a young man who really did kill his own father, and participated in a gang rape of his mother, wants to save the young woman from the Yakuza pimp so a bunch of drama takes place amongst the three of them. The whole thing comes off less like an exploration of psycho-sexual weirdness or repressed and imagined memories, and more like a director's fantasy of seeing how far he can go in abusing a young actress. Kinda creepy, imo.

Single-name actress Miwon, undoubtedly a pseudonym, is quite fetching as the protagonist, exuding a screen presence that's both strong and vulnerable. This is her only screen credit so I'll wonder out loud if she has acted, or is acting, under a different name, or if the experience of making this film put a great big damper on any hopes she had of making it a career.

Director Ryuichi Hiroki's extensive filmography is all over the place. From soft-core pink films to highly regarded film festival winners like Vibrator and It's Only Talk to innocent young love stories like April Bride and the Love on Sunday films. He's pretty good at what he does but I think he goes a little far here in heaping on the abuse without enough consideration of real reasons for why it's happening.

Director: Ryuichi Hiroki

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