1 item from 1993
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.
Producers Yoshinori Takazawa, Masashi Moromizato
Director of photography Yoshimasa Hakata
Sound Makio Ika
Art direction Kunihiro Inomata
Editor Kenji Goto
Music Hiroshi Ariyoshi
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
1 item from 1993
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