Japan Cuts 2011: LOVE AND TREACHERY Review

Contributor; Seattle, Washington
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Japan Cuts 2011: LOVE AND TREACHERY Review

Love and Treachery is an erotic drama that considers its characters at such a distance that we can't really get a feel for either of the modes the movie is going for. The performances are so stiff, so emotionally opaque, as to defy any kind of connection between the viewer and the characters on screen. It takes a bored book editor out to the countryside to find a novelist who's gone missing. What he finds instead is the novelist's sexy mistress whose love for the writer goes well beyond obsessive. Meanwhile, back at the editor's home, his neglected wife strikes up a tentative relationship with a handsome young man at her swim club.

Beyond that, I won't say anything more about the plot out of respect for those of you who appreciate surprises in their films. I will say that the revelations from that point require sinister hearts and white hot passion, and it a movie with a little more blood to it, we could have been watching a nice, hothouse melodrama.

Instead, the movie goes for restraint, for an almost clinical detachment from the events unfolding during the course of the story. The camera stays locked in place for many scenes as though locking them in time. This leads to a lot of pretty shots but keeps reinforcing the feeling that the moving pictures are never really moving. Even during what should be a torrid sex scene, director Hitoshi Yazaki films the two characters in an almost documentary style--objective, distant, and cold.

We never see really more than one emotion from most of the characters, save the editor's wife who moves from suspicion to intrigue to finally, during the film's climax, profound shock. She seemed to know what kind of movie she was in if the other actors did not.

Love and Treachery is screening on Saturday, July 16th as part of Japan Cuts. You can find out more details about the screening on the Japan Society site.

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William CarrGeorge ReehmWalter StullFrances Ne MoyerThomas AitkenComedyShort
sitenoiseJuly 16, 2011 2:35 PM

I hope you're wrong about this film. Yazaki, in his too small filmography, has hit at least a couple home runs. "Strawberry Shortcakes" was filmed in an "almost documentary style--objective, distant, and cold" sort of way but offered up great characters with lots of resonance. "Sweet Little Lies" also lets us watch its characters from a cold distance. Seems to be the director's style. From there, I guess, it's 'Do you like what you see?' The Japan Society blurb on this film more or less dismisses it with "He seems to have a perfect life. One day, he meets the sultry lover and muse of an up‐and‐coming novelist. He decides to screw up his 15-year marriage. Clothes come off and the drama starts." and doesn't mention the director's past films. Have I made an error or shouldn't we have more hope (and disappointment, if that's the case) for this film?

Charles WebbJuly 17, 2011 4:28 PM

While I haven't seen STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES, I can say that the method used here doesn't really serve the characters or situations well. Only the editor's wife really has any sort of resonance or humanity with everyone else playing as ciphers more than anything else.

sitenoiseJuly 19, 2011 2:05 AM

I put off watching "Strawberry Shortcakes" for too long because the title seemed silly, too sugary. If it was titled STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES I might have never watched it. :)