Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tsumugi (Hidekazu Takahara, 2004)

Aoi Sora is Tsumugi (2004).

Another release from Pink Eiga, the new company specializing in Japanese sex films of the pink cinema kind. Their fifth release, Hidekazu Takahara's Tsumugi, is a coming of age drama about a high school girl who likes toying with the men around her, starring AV idol Aoi Sora. The following text contains spoilers.

The story involves several characters that all need to grow up and mature in different ways, accepting and taking responsibility for their actions and lives. Tsumugi is having an affair with her teacher, Katagiri, who is about to have a child with his wife, and who is also having another affair with one of his co-workers at the school. Tsumugi is also getting involved with a boy in her class who she sometimes taunts for being a lousy student, not playing sports and basically not having anything going for him, until he finally accepts it as fact.

All these characters, including a punk rock singer who's a friend of Katagiri who's a bit too old to be sporting a mohawk and hasn't seen his daughter in years, come to a point where they have to make a decision to either act as adults and make the right decisions or to run away from their responsibilities because of interactions with Tsumugi. At the same time as she too has to make her own decision she works as a catalyst for the other characters in the film.

As it turns out, only the students, and possibly the youth-like punk singer, manages to realize what is probably best for them, while the adults resort to childish actions and selfish behavior.
The boy student decides that he's had enough of not knowing where he wants to go in life and decides to start training for a triathlon in Hawaii, the first time he's really worked for anything, and to Tsumugi's surprise he's really giving it his best shot.

When Katagiri's co-worker finds out about and confronts Tsumugi about her relationship with her teacher, and is unable to end it, she outs them in the teachers' lounge, more out of jealousy than care for a student, and in the process makes a fool of herself judging from the lack of reactions from other teachers. In the meanwhile, Katagiri is still involved with Tsumugi even though he has become a father, and while they're out driving, Tsumugi seems to realize that she's probably better off with the student than the cheating Katagiri, but as the films comes to a close, and the characters have made their decisions, so does her role as a catalyst and she has a fatal accident which Katagiri runs from.

The acting is good all around, with the stand out being Aoi Sora who fits her role perfectly even if it might come down more to screen prescence and charisma than anything else, and the co-worker whose desperate outing in the teachers' lounge is really uncomfortable to watch. The whole film feels very natural and the director manages to tell the story efficiently during the film's 62 minute running time and the many sex scenes never imposes on the rest of the film, they feel like a natural part of the story and doesn't come off as tacked on.

I'd say that Tsumugi is one of Pink Eiga's better releases, up there with the more serious films they have put on disc so far, A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn (Daisuke Goto, 2003) and New Tokyo Decadence - The Slave (Osamu Sato, 2007). It is also the first to be released in two editions, one standard and one special, with the special edition sporting 5.1 surround sound and a bunch of featurettes, mostly revolving around Aoi Sora, and some music videos.


PinkEIga said...

Thank you so much for this great review!

We all appreciate!