Cast: Erika Karata, Koji Seto, Masahiro Higashide, Rio Yamashita, Sairi Ito
Official Selection, 2018 Cannes Film Festival
Official Selection, 2018 Busan International Film Festival
Asako’s first love arrived like a dream, complete with slow motion and firecrackers. The boy, Baku, tall and handsome, strolled in, hair drooped over rebel eyes. Soon Asako is clutching him from the back of a motorcycle zipping by the shore. Baku’s got the kind of brooding that makes it hard for Asako’s friends to trust him, so when one day he simply vanishes from Asako’s life, nobody seems to bat an eye. That is until years later, in a different city and phase in her life, when Asako stumbles upon a man who looks just like Baku, only clean-cut and with an innocent smile. He calls himself Ryohei. They begin a relationship.
Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi follows his acclaimed Happy Hour (SDAFF ’15) with another riveting feature tracking the unnerving indecipherability of everyday choices. He tantalizes us with behavior too detached to be judgable, yet just psychological enough to incite our identification, a balance captured so perfectly by the hypnotized softness of Erika Karata in the lead role. Drifting between what might be dream and waking states, he conjures unsettling doubles – not just through the two men with the same face, but through the love in Asako’s mind she reserves for each, balanced not through rationality but by the mysteries of impulse. There’s an earthquake here too, but the real tremors come with each character’s arrival: faces seeking recognition, synapses triggering dormant hearts.