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1 item from 1993


'Okoge'

21 July 1993 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

A young woman and her friend unknowingly invade a gay beach, where the open displays of affection and naked flesh intrigue pretty, self-sufficient Sayoko. So begins Takehiro Nakajima's accomplished dramatic comedy that ranks as the most thorough examination of gay life in modern Japan.

While non-fatally flawed by an excessive running time -- some viewers will begin to lose interest -- ''Okoge'' transcends its specific milieu to provide the expected high and low points of a screen romance. The soft-core lovemaking scenes and same-sex romantic maneuvering limit its appeal, but Nakajima's film is a fully realized character study that thoughtful audiences of all persuasions will enjoy and ponder.

Sayoko (Misa Shimizu) is an ''Okoge'' -- a woman who seeks the company of gay men -- with no romantic life of her own. She finds the love between young craftsman Goh (Takehiro Murata) and his married lover Tochi (Takeo Nakahara) a thing of beauty and comfort. Indeed, she invites them to use her apartment for their clandestine meetings, then watches their relationship gradually fall apart as Tochi succumbs to pressure at work and home about his closeted homosexuality.

When Sayoko attempts to find a new lover for Goh, she follows his lead with momentous results. Not only is her friendship with Goh temporarily ended, but she is raped and impregnated, a poignant and ironic fate for one we learn was sexually abused as a child. Goh, meanwhile, confesses his gayness to his family with mixed results. His mother, beginning to lose her grip on reality, is particularly unable to accept the situation and blames herself.

''Okoge'' covers a lot of ground with the urgency of a story that must be told. Years pass and characters come and go, but the scattered story never feels less than authentic. Strengthened immeasurably by the performances of Shimizu and Murata, ''Okoge'' is carefully consistent in its approach. Yoshimasa Hakata's cinematography is outstanding as are the rest of the film's technical aspects.

OKOGE

Cinevista

Producer-writer-directorTakehiro Nakajima

Producers Yoshinori Takazawa, Masashi Moromizato

Director of photography Yoshimasa Hakata

Sound Makio Ika

Art direction Kunihiro Inomata

Editor Kenji Goto

Music Hiroshi Ariyoshi

Color

Cast:

Sayoko Misa Shimizu

Goh Takehiro Murata

Tochi Takeo Nakahara

Kurihara Masayuki Shionoya

Kineo, Goh's mother Noriko Sengoku

Yayoi Toshie Negishi

Tamio Atsushi Fukazawa

Running time -- 120 minutes

No MPAA Rating

(c) The Hollywood Reporter

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1 item from 1993


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