Perfect Revolution (2017) Poster

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politic19831 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Something of a late bloomer in the acting world, Lily Frankie has become a Japanese indie staple, regularly appearing in the works of perhaps Japan's most internationally-renowned director, Koreeda Hirokazu. While largely in supporting roles, he always brings a charm to the screen with his presence and a welcome addition as he strolls in front of the camera. Now in the lead role, playing a disabled author, "Perfect Revolution" is a film that relies heavily on this on screen charm.

Kuma (Frankie) is an author with cerebral palsy, a sex-obsessed author with cerebral palsy; a fact that leads to various humorous incidents, such as up-skirt viewing of young shop assistants from his vantage point of his wheelchair as they reach for some "top shelf material" and extensive product-placement for Japanese male masturbation aid manufacturer Tenga.

While at a book launch, the young Ryoko (Nana Seino), after an unexpected outburst, forcibly demands his attention. After several meetings together, they start an unusual relationship, with both the age difference and Ryoko's ability to handle his disability questioned by Kuma's family and his carer, Eri (Eiko Koike). And gradually their concerns are realised, with Ryoko's erratic behaviour resulting from her "personality disorder."

Ryoko subsequently threatens Eri before turning on Kuma himself, attempting a joint suicide. Forced apart, the two are allowed a brief reunion a year later, resulting in a somewhat farcical and cheesy ending.

A relative novice, there is a lot of challenging subject matter for writer-director Jumpei Matsumoto to take on, alongside cerebral palsy sufferer Yukihiko Kumano. Japanese stigma towards disability has always been a touchy subject, particularly when it comes to mental health. The is exemplified by Kuma's family's reactions to the couple's relationship, as well as their harsh words towards Kuma as the family curse and burden. This perhaps impacts of Matsumoto's writing, with disability and difference a key focus throughout, rather than looking at the pair as a simply an unorthodox couple.

What starts off as a comedy, soon descends into rom-com territory, before over sentimentality and emotional responses start to spoil the film. The film's conclusion drifts into silliness before quite a cheesy finale.

Ryoko's idea that their relationship will be their "revolution" is countered by the fact that neither are perhaps emotionally stable enough for a relationship. Kuma has given up on truly finding love due to his condition, turning his attention to sexual gratification; while Ryoko is a danger to those she sees as in her way, including Kuma. This tricky subject matter makes for tricky responses. Perhaps Matsumoto wanted to challenge audiences, though the cheesy reunion towards the end perhaps undermines this.

As the star, Frankie delivers a solid performance as the likable rogue, Kuma; his charm the film's strength. Though those around him are less agreeable, whether employed to voice society's views or display a range of overstated and directed emotions; Frankie is the measured voice holding it all together. As often can be the case with films tackling controversial subjects, the conflict between the characters creates conflict within the film itself - with sudden changes in character motivations - leaving it a little confused as to what story it is trying to tell.

Though whether good or bad, "Perfect Revolution" raises topics that it important to ask.
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