Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Original title: Ai No Korida
Japan/France, 1976. Argos Films, Oshima Productions, Shibata Organisation. Screenplay by Nagisa Oshima. Cinematography by Hideo Ito. Produced by Anatole Dauman. Music by Minoru Miki. Production Design by Shigemasa Toda. Costume Design by Masahiro Kato, Shigemasa Toda. Film Editing by Patrick Sauvion, Keiichi Uraoka.
Sex is ripened to the point of banality in this endlessly carnal melodrama by Nagisa Oshima. It’s based on a true story about a married man in 1930s Tokyo who leaves his home and wife to begin a passionate, sexual affair with one of his servant girls. The two of them hole up in a hotel room and are completely unable to let each other go (which by the time she doesn’t let him leave the room for three seconds to go to the bathroom becomes somewhat alarming), and Oshima spares absolutely no detail in describing their constant lustful desire for each other. The sexuality is extremely graphic (there is no doubt left in the mind that the actors are doing it for real, so if that’s going to be a problem for you I suggest you leave this one on the shelf), while their physical obsession with each other gets even more disturbing when they begin to really let go of their boundaries. What is impressive, though, is the fact that the filmmaker does a terrific job of capturing their chemistry; while you eventually get tired of all the boning, it is amazing how they seem to be enjoying it the whole time, and how it never feels staged or confined in any way. The trouble is, this also never prevents the movie from being something of a pretentious bore.
The Criterion Collection: #466