Thursday, May 1, 2008

REVIEW: I Am an S&M Writer - Ryuichi Hiroki (2000)

Reviewed by Chris MaGee

There are a ton of films about falling in love, but there are very few about falling out of love and an even smaller number of those are any good. Divide these few by how many frankly address sex in a relationship and you’ll get “I Am an S&M Writer” (2000).

Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by real life S&M author Oniroku Dan we watch how Kurosaki’s (Ren Osugi) work as an erotic novelist causes a major rift between him and his wife, Shizuko (Yôko Hoshi). It’s understandable. The creatively (and we can only assume sexually) blocked author has his dedicated assistant, Kawada (Jun Murakami) bring young women around to his home where Kawada ties them up and acts out various scenarios while Kurosaki feverishly scribbles down all the naughty details. It’s too much for Shizuko who in retaliation starts shamelessly flirting with her English instructor. Kurosaki notices, but doesn’t act, torn between his wife and work. When it’s revealed who Shizuko is actually having an affair with does he have to decide where exactly his loyalties lie.

For a film with such a provocative title you’d expect plenty of whips and leather, and…well… sex. There’s some, but what is shown is done in a very tongue in cheek way. Director Ryuichi Hiroki, who had his start in the world of pinku eiga, has his characters verbalize their desires and frustrations instead of putting them nakedly on display, showing very delicately with wonderful camera work and editing how sex and work, the lack thereof of the former and the surplus of the latter, can erode the last scraps of love between two people.

As with his film “Vibrator” he gets wonderful performances from his actors, especially Ren Osugi who’s normally relegated to eccentric supporting roles in the film sof Miike and Kitano amongst other. Here he is alternately hilarious and pathetic, watching bug-eyed as his marriage falls to pieces. The scene where he invites his wife and all of his romantic rivals to a disco for a night of celebration is hardly comfortable to watch, but Osugi is utterly convincing as a man who is absolutely at the end of his rope.

This is the best film I’ve seen in a long time, so don’t feel embarrassed to ask for it at your video store. If they don’t have it give the clerk a few lashes across the backside, ‘kay?

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