Topless トップ (Toppuresu) [2008] • Japan

There's zero nudity in this very sweet film about being lesbian in contemporary Tokyo. Someone is going to argue that the title metaphorically refers to being emotionally topless, i.e., baring your soul, because the film takes the risky approach, like millions of films do, of being about being human. Even though the film focuses on the loves and lives of its central lesbian characters it really speaks a universal language that heterosexual viewers can relate to as well—like having to deny your identity for the sake of marrying a man for security. Uh-huh. No. This film is about being lesbian.

Topless is refreshing and all that. Its themes of love and fear and politics and sadness are universal. Some of its plot points are a little diversitiste though, like the young girl who comes to Tokyo with an anti-lesbian chip on her shoulder to look for her mother who abandoned her several years ago to be with a lesbian lover, meets the film's protagonist who helps her, comes to recognize that lesbians can be good people too. OK. Characters learn from other characters all the time in movies.

The film might appear a little fluffy when you stand back from it, but the journey through it is filled with a number of poignant moments. One is the film's only sex scene, a non-explicit one between the film's central lesbian character and her male roommate. She's lost her true love to a man, is full of turmoil and wants to see what sex with a man is like. The scene is done very well and handled delicately.

My take on the title and the poster depicting two young women about to engage in a passionate kiss is this: the opening moments of the film are a little warm. The two women, as depicted on the poster, are engaged in some very passionate kissing and roaming of hands. And then pop! The top, the attitude many viewers stereotypically enter with, and desire from, a film about lesbians—two chicks going at it will be hot—comes off. The scene makes an abrupt change in tone and direction. All of a sudden the film is about people with personalities and it never looks back. Yes, it keeps saying "my desire to love and be loved as a lesbian is just like yours (as a straight person) except it's a little complicated by all this societal buildup of crud." That's the point.

My biggest takeaway from the film is Mina Shimizu. She's one of those actresses like Noriko Eguchi, except she's very upbeat and not moody and darkish like Eguchi, who owns the screen and everyone else in it every time she appears. I predict big things ahead for her.

Director: Eiji Uchida
Starring: Mina Shimizu, Ryûnosuke Kawai, Aya Ohyama, Erika Okuda, Aya Oomasa


No comments:

Post a Comment