Directed by Ryuichi Hiroki
Starring Shinobu Terajima, Nao Omori
arsaib4 - For me, Vibrator exemplifies what cinema should be: Free and innovative, along with having the capability to transcend any tradition. It's one of the best Japanese films I've seen this decade. Looking forward to your thoughts.
Well how do you follow a comment like that? This is one of the films that show why Japan still leads the field as far as Asian cinema (if not World cinema) is concerned, even more surprising considering the director is better known for making pink films. I was so impressed I spent days going round the book shops until I managed to buy the original novel.
On its simplest level the film is a road trip with two characters who while completely different share a common wariness towards others. They manage to transcend their differences even if only for a few days and finish where they started, slightly changed for the better.
The whole narrative is given from the perspective of the female character Rei, a journalist. And what a narrative, she is neurotic, has eating disorders and appears to be schizophrenic, continuously hearing voices and sometimes unwarily telling them to shut up. The only way shes found to get rid of these voices is alcohol, which is a staple part of her diet, the film opens with Rei in a shopping mart very late at night where she is looking for some wine. We hear her thoughts although its never clear when they are her own or the voices in her mind.
Her thoughts and shopping are held in check though when she espies a stranger dressed in overalls and yellow gum boots, she assumes he's a fisherman and a secondary set of thoughts appear, this time written. These are more direct, such as Hes tasty, I want to eat him. There is no doubting these are her thoughts and for someone who normally finds it hard to cope with everyday living this is a giant leap.
The attraction is mutual and the slightest physical contact is enough to make Rei decide to take a risk. To her and the man's (Takatoshi) surprise they spend a night of passion in his lorry cab, (he's a haulage driver) then embark on a journey that although a normal part of his routine will allow both to lower their barriers, communicate and share rare precious moments in an otherwise uncaring world.
Thats the basic plot but it cannot relay the depth of the experience or put across Reis problems. The filming is done with DV, which is perfect for the enclosed space of the lorry cab, and the soundtrack is terrific.
The actors are superb, I know I often say the actors were ideal etc but in this case they are perfect. Shinobu Terajima, a stage actress plays Rei and is totally believable as this complex and emotionally fragile creature. Nao Omori, probably best known for playing the title character in "Ichi the Killer" is Takatoshi, wary of opening up but sensitive and caring towards Rei.
Apart from the two people on a road trip scenario, if you look deeper, this could be taken as a view of Japan or even the modern civilized materialistic world as a whole. Japan is a nation that has been in a state of flux since the end of World War II, a people searching for an identity and for values. The neurosis is a symptom of modern society where old values mean little and the new values such as consumerism mean even less.
Highly recommended, different, poignant and deep.
No BBFC rating but no lower than 15.