Japanese pink films have the uncanny ability to maintain “art house” themes while blending in pure weird exploitive elements. “Man, Woman and The Wall” is a Japanese pink film by Masashi Yamamoto and stars av-idol Sora Aoi. It is somewhat a light-hearted, kinder side of pink cinema, but it no less exploitive than others. Oh, my reviews for a couple of “chick flicks” have gotten more attention as of late so allow me to re-establish my twisted mind. Oh, this movie stars sexy av-idol Sora Aoi--so do I have your attention yet?
Ryo (Keita Ono) is a young magazine reporter who had just recently moved into a small apartment with thin walls. The walls are paper thin that he can hear almost everything that goes on in the next door apartment occupied by a beautiful young woman named Satsuki (Sora Aoi). Eavesdropping becomes a habit for Ryo that he can listen in to the details of his neighbor’s life; her conversations, her phone calls, when she bathes, even her moans when she makes love to her boyfriend Yuta (Hiroto Kato). Ryo’s fantasies escalate to love and passion. Meanwhile, Satsuki becomes increasingly afraid because of the bizarre phone calls she gets almost every night. Now when Ryo and Satsuki finally meet and begin a friendship, reality and fantasy intertwine, a simple harmless prank may just lead to the unthinkable.
Japanese cinema seem to look at kinky cinema and perversion in a very different way than us in the West. Ryo’s behavior may seem downright creepy and unsettling to U.S. audiences, but director Yamamoto manages to make his character interesting and need I say it--a little humorously likeable? Yamamoto goes to the mystery stalker angle that gives the viewer the idea that Ryo is the harmless kind, and that there are real perverts that may be hanging around in our everyday lives. Ryo is the lonely guy, and often he has nothing else to do after work, he fantasizes on his next door neighbor, as he sees her in a very different way and rather a little cartoonish as displayed by Ryo’s fantasies about how her apartment looks. It was colorful and vibrant, while in real life Satsuki’s apartment is simple and extremely drab.
Satsuki is your typical girl next door type, and while Ryo sees her as this voluptuous conquest, sex siren Sora Aoi plays her as one sympathetic character. Satsuki went through a lot of difficulties, she works two jobs and sends money to her family. The real Satsuki is so different from the “sex object” imagined by Ryo. It’s a clever trick to expose the protagonist’s perspective and to have reality crash down on his fantasies. Yamamoto wisely films some of the scenes of Ryo and Satsuki somewhat “imaginary and cartoon-like” as when they are seen in the same room ONLY in Ryo’s mind. When the two actually meet, the shots are made in a minimalist manner, to emphasize realism.
Now, this is a pink film, so expect a good share of gratuitous sex scenes and even full frontal nudity. As with most pinku films, this movie blows the ones seen in late night cable out of the water. The usual “pink” sex scenes are on display, as Sora Aoi is seen in her birthday suit, as well as the infamous “pinku“ style of hand inside the panties. The sex scenes are long, titillating and erotic, the Japanese knows their stuff when it comes to exploitive scenes and Sora Aoi being an av-actress, seems to be very comfortable with the scenes. The acting is rather uneven, and some parts of the acting is downright laughable, but Sora Aoi manages to steal the show with her acting skills as well as her outright sexiness.
“Man Woman and the Wall” is a story about love and lust, obsession and betrayal. I know that this type of film relies on titillation, shock, exploitive sex that leans on an “art house” theme, but this is where the film falls a little flat. The film is very predictable, while delightful in its simplicity on some aspects, the characters were too average to really make this film a memorable art house affair. The sex scenes are good but falls a little short to be truly remarkably exploitive. It had that “cute” tone to it, that fans who liked “A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn” and “Sachiko Hanai” may find themselves looking for more. It is somewhat of a let down when it comes to provocative material.
The movie is good and passable but so far from becoming great. The film doesn’t really manage to do anything different or inspiring in an art house theme, the film is a little flat. It’s too cute to be real guilty pleasure and never manages to make me feel dirty; and for me a pink film should be able to shock with a good storyline.
Recommended! To Japanese pink film fans, a rental for everybody else. [3- Stars]
The TLA release is letterboxed at 1.78 ratio with 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese track. Good picture but somewhat contains more grain on some scenes.