Bondage J-Film an Utter Win

Although afflicted with the English title of I Am an S+M Writer, Dan Oniroku’s tragicomic Futei no Kisetsu (2000) was so amazing that it now tops my list of awesome films from Japan.

Mr. Tungsten had the movie pegged within the first five minutes. This is a Japanese Woody-Allen-style sex comedy, complete with a neurotic protagonist and light blues soundtrack. Like Allen, director Hiroki Ryuichi has a knack for turning an ostensibly dour subject like the breakdown of a writer’s marriage into moments of comedic gold. Plus there is a lot of rope bondage. Need I say more about why we liked this? No, but I will.

The film is an adaptation of Dan Oniroku’s semi-autobiographical book Futui no Kisetsu (不貞の季節) or Season of Infidelity. Somehow the English version of the book received a literally translated title, while the film didn’t. Was this the director’s choice, or did the English-language marketers want something more punchy and to the point? Regardless, the film still manages to delve deeply into Dan’s psyche while at the same time keeping the viewer leaning in with anticipation. The phrase “oh my god, what’s going to happen now”  literally went through my mind at least a dozen times throughout the 88 minutes of this film.

Case in point: the initial scene.

Interior: A traditional-style Japanese room with shoji screens and tatami mats. A young man has a naked young woman in rope bondage. She is moaning, clearly aroused. As the camera pulls back we see that this is a study. Books are piled on shelves and haphazardly on the floor. Kurosagi, the protagonist of this film, seated at a low desk. He is feverishly writing, asking the young man explicit questions that he answers with deference and speed. Both the man and the woman call Kurosagi “sensei”. As the action heats up, Kurosagi asks the younger man to take dictation as the writer strips off his summer robe and lies, in his underwear, beneath the naked girl’s legs. Meanwhile we see an image of an elegant middle-aged lady in traditional dress praying at a temple. As she leaves, we realize that this is Kurosagi’s wife, Shizuko. She is returning to the house where this bizarre threesome is taking place.

In the end Shizuko does something totally unexpected and we’re off on a wild, exciting ride until the end of the film when Shizuko makes her ultimate decision. Will she leave him? Or will she do something unexpected and stay?

In addition to entertainment and laughs, this film made us really hungry for Japanese food. So much of the dialogue occurs in this movie occurs during meals. We actually had to take a break to make soba and miso soup, sitting, appropriately enough, cross-legged on the floor at the coffee table as we sucked up our noodles and watched.

The other side-effect of this movie is that it’s made me more curious than ever about kinbaku, or rope bondage japanese style.

4 responses to “Bondage J-Film an Utter Win

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