Moonlight Whispers 月光の囁き (Gekkô no sasayaki) [1999] • Japan

One of those "only from Japan" psycho-sexual dramas which explores adult themes of desire, domination, and twisted mind-fuck games and perversion ... acted out by teenagers. No comment on this peculiar film tradition.

Boy with fetishes meets girl with Dom proclivities. At first the girl, played exquisitely by Tsugumi, thinks the boy's over-zealous displays of desire are perverted, but then she realizes his fetishistic personality gives her great power over him so she makes him do pretty much anything degrading she can think of, from licking her feet, nay, her entire leg clean, to locking him in a closet while she has sex with another guy. He goes along with all of it because he is also madly, sadly, and pathetically in love with her. It's a little harder to tell what her motivation is because, well, she's a girl. Depending on the viewer's orientation to things, the film might seem erotic, but no matter which way the wind blows there's no escaping the film's ominous, eerie, and sad emptiness (in an indie good way). This film just broods along beautifully.

This is Akihiko Shiota's directorial debut and probably his strongest film. The focus is clear and concise. The powerful but flawed Harmful Insect would have benefited from such focus. It was the first one of his films I had seen and it pissed me off for days. Then I saw Canary and wasn't sure what to think. There wasn't much new to it and it seemed less well done. Now that I've seen Moonlight Whispers I have to go back and watch those two films again, and I will be seeking out all of his films. Funny how that works.

Director: Akihiko Shiota
Starring: Kenji Mizuhashi, Tsugumi


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