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L'amant (2004)

 |  Drama  |  5 February 2004 (Japan)
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Three middle-aged men established a sex-contract for one year with Chikako, a 17 years schoolgirl.



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Three middle-aged men established a sex-contract for one year with Chikako, a 17 years schoolgirl.

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User Reviews

Old pervs turn their sexual fantasies into cinema, and try to make us buy it
11 April 2005 | by (Philadelphia Film Festival) – See all my reviews

I didn't see Vibrator, the much gushed about previous film by director Ryuichi Hiroki, but he came in person as a guest of the festival and Travis Crawford, the curator of Asian Cinema for the Philly Fest.

First stipulating that I am no red-state moralist (nor a father), I found this film to be, at best, an old man's sex fantasy clumsily turned into a script and movie. We have a 17 year-old girl (the age of consent in Japan, or do young women wear their plaid skirts into their 30's for alluring effect?) "sell" herself as a sex slave to three 30+ brothers who should really think of getting a life. Of course, they are dutifully executing Dad's wishes, who spies aforementioned nymphet from his death-bed hospital window, and wishes he could, well, relate to her in language the translators probably misunderstood. Otherwise, Dad was a big IL' perv, too. Some mention is made of dad being a filmmaker, and dusty back rooms contain canisters and other detritus from a career in pre-digital film, but whether this guy was Kurosawa or Flint is open to speculation (I'll bank on the latter).

Drama (or something approaching it) ensues, with each brother doing something sick/life affirming (take your pick) to our heroine at various points. Heroine seems to have only one encounter with mother-figure, and soon gets Stockholm syndrome (really loves her creepy old rapist father figures). Much ordered pantie removal is performed (along with "womb touching" presumably the Japanese method of coat-hanger abortion, but I digress…). Much like the Story of O, you must be humiliated to get inner strength, or failing that, use up all that film stock you bought.

Big event is our heroine getting raped (by a stranger in a movie theater bathroom, not the "good rape" she experiences at home with her guardians). The stranger doesn't use protection, so we now have a pregnancy issue to beat around.

Our heroine eventually discovers sketch books done by the father, which actually show her clothed, but still sporting red pouting lips and those ubiquitous knee-socks. See, he really was a sensitive guy, in a Larry Flint/Bob Guccione kinda way.

As was explained after in the Q & A, us dumb Americans missed the larger symbolic themes in the picture. And if we would have been hip enough to read the graphic novel that it was based on, we would have had a one-handed appreciation for the genre that inspired the movie. The other hand, of course, was busy…

In the end, we get a teary parting of ways, as the girl realizes it is her birthday, and she is no longer under contract to Larry, Daryl and Daryl. But she'll miss them, because they made her a woman (feel free to hurl at any point).

In summation, a piece of crap, an old man's male fantasy marginally dressed-up as art film.

Just yesterday I saw a film of teenage exploitation/abuse done right, Greg Akari's magnificent "Mysterious Skin". Now there was a statement, and a movie to boot.

Avoid this one at all costs, and question any programmer who thinks this is material for a festival as well-regarded as Philadelphia's. Mr. Crawford should be ashamed.

17 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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