IT FEELS SO GOOD

火口のふたり

Directed by Haruhiko Arai

Cast: Kumi Takiuchi, Tasuku Emoto

Best Film, Best Actress, 2019 Kinema Junpo Awards
Best Film, 2020 Yokohama Film Festival

Ken’s just minding his own business, content enough as a part-time security guard fishing the day away, when he gets an unexpected phone call. His ex-girlfriend Naoko is getting married and he’s invited to the wedding. With nothing better to do, Ken goes back to his hometown early and has a fateful run-in with his ex. They’re childhood companions, tethered by memories growing up in old Tohoku homes, and coming of age through a short-lived sexual relationship remembered through sensuous photos and the un-displaceable highs of semi-public lovemaking. With less than two weeks until the wedding, and a fiancé out of town, Ken and Naoko dip their toes into the libidinous limbo of a more carefree past.

What begins as a nostalgic bedroom tryst becomes a lament for a world lost to an earthquake/tsunami and an unfulfilling adulthood. Sex becomes a figment of freedom, a tease that conceals the truth that perhaps they were never free to begin with. Acclaimed screenwriter Haruhiko Arai directs their reunion like a steamy Before Sunset, with extended conversations–Ken and Naoko are essentially the only two characters in the film–reflecting on the lost feeling of desiring somebody, and innately knowing a body. For all the demons they conjure, the two lose themselves in the rare, delicate embrace of naked familiarity as saccharine as a ‘90s rock ballad, and as sublime as the end of days.

–Brian Hu

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