“Love hinders sexual desire”
The strategy utilized by Nikkatsu in their Roman Porno films appears to be causing a stir in the Japanese film industry. Toei has also adopted this approach, which is more attuned to current societal issues and places equal emphasis on both men and women. Haruhiko Arai has been a strong supporter of this approach, as evidenced by his previous work “It Feels So Good.” His latest film, “A Spoiling Rain,” is based on the award-winning novella “Hanakutasi” by Hisaki Matsuura and follows a similar style. However, the focus on the Japanese film industry adds a personal touch, as Arai himself started his career as a screenwriter for Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno films.
In 2012, during the winter season, two bodies were found on a beach in an apparent lover’s suicide. The deceased were identified as actress Shoko Kirioka and director Kuwayama. Suichi Kutani, a pinku director who had not found success in his career, was responsible for informing the actress’s parents about the tragedy. It was discovered that Shoko and Kuwayama had been living together at the time of their death. After attending a meeting with other members of the pinku industry following the funeral, Kutani was asked by his landlord to evict another tenant named Iseki. Iseki, like Kutani, was also a failed member of the industry, working as a scriptwriter. Initially, their relationship was strained but they eventually bonded over drinks at a bar. They shared stories about their past and their experiences with a woman who had negatively impacted their lives.
Haruhiko Arai is the director of a film that takes place in three different time periods: the present and two past periods, each focusing on one of the main characters. What sets this film apart is the use of black-and-white for the first time period and color for the other two. However, the contrasts between the time periods do not end there. The first period is primarily centered around two men having extensive conversations, while the later periods involve more interactions between the two men and a woman, as well as other industry members such as Kuwayama.
This method, along with the exceptional editing work by Chieko Suzaki, creates an engaging storytelling experience from start to finish. The main twist, which the audience will pick up on quickly but the two main characters seem to overlook, adds depth to the story by showcasing their obliviousness to their surroundings. This aspect is complemented by the thorough characterization of both men, who have been consumed by sadness and disappointment in their declining careers, leading to strained relationships in different ways. As a result, the female character is portrayed as a genuinely good, caring, and enthusiastic individual, whose only flaw seems to be her poor choice in partners.
The main storyline of the movie relies heavily on dialogue and excessive drinking, which may bring to mind Hong Sang-soo’s films due to its examination of unsuccessful filmmakers and flawed male characters. However, the previous storylines shift the focus away from these themes, incorporating more erotic elements. This culminates in a particularly pinku-esque scene in the main storyline. The two previous storylines contain more explicit sexual content, but it is portrayed in a realistic and tasteful manner.
The main factor contributing to this film’s high quality is the presence of Honami Sato, a renowned drummer in Japan who has also appeared in similar films. Sato’s beauty and acting in certain scenes are some of the best we have seen in pinku films. This talent extends beyond the erotic aspects of the film, as the three main characters (Go Ayano as Kutani, Tasuku Emoto as Iseki, and Sato) all give noteworthy performances. Their contrasting personalities work well together, particularly in the dramatic scenes that are prominent throughout the movie.
The cinematography by Koichi Kawakami and Miho Shinyako is a standout feature of the film, utilizing the contrast between the past and present to enhance the story. This adds a commentary on the joys of the past and the struggles of the present. The use of black-and-white further enhances the dramatic tone of the film, showcasing the overall skill and quality of the production without needing excessive praise.
There is some delay, as usual, especially towards the end, but overall, “A Spoiling Rain” is a highly enjoyable movie that successfully blends sensuality and drama with a melancholic sense of longing. The direction and the charm of all three main characters are the film’s greatest strengths.