Nagisa Oshima's "Pleasures of the Flesh" is the sad, utterly depressing tale of an average man, driven to moral corruption, by unrequited love of an unattainable woman. Atsushi Wakizaka is obsessed with the delicate beauty, Shoko. She doesn't return the sentiment, for good reason, as Atsushi is somewhat of a loser with no ambition and a weak character. Driven to murder a particularly vile man who raped, and then attempted to blackmail Shoko, Atsushi finds himself the victim of blackmail, by a yet another vile, reprehensible character that witnessed the crime. A chain of events is set into motion when he is asked to hold onto 30 million Yen while his blackmailer serves his 5 year prison term. The self-destructive Atsushi decides that he will waste the money on a succession of whores that resemble the girl who rejected him to marry a wealthy cosmetics magnate. Of course things don't turn out as planned, leading up to a shocking climax, that doesn't hold a happy ending for anybody..
Wow, what an exhaustive parade of lowlifes, losers, pimps, thugs, bums, and murderers inhabit Oshima's beautifully framed vision. Of course this controversial Japan director is known for his exploration of the seedy, dark underbelly of Japanese society. Shot in lurid, film noir style, I cannot say this is an 'enjoyable' film, but it is undeniably so well made, that it deserves it's praise. Best viewed as a cautionary tale about how money can corrupt a weak soul, and even distort reality. Despite it's sexy title, don't expect a sexually charged film, as you will be disappointed. Expect instead to witness the complete and utter destruction of a man's soul. And be prepared to spend 90 minutes with some truly slimy, despicable characters. Recommended for those viewers that enjoy wallowing in a world of crime and corruption..
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