Japanese films have recently featured many stories about the movie industry. In his first full-length film, Tokuhiro Yasukawa offers a unique perspective that differs from the usual approach. The film stands out due to its unconventional use of actors repeatedly reciting lines from a play throughout the entire movie.
“Maybe Woohoo” is screening at InlanDimensions
The entire process is completed within 24 hours, the same amount of time it took to film the movie. Emi resides in a small rural town and aspires to be an actress. In preparation for an upcoming audition in Tokyo, she enlists the help of Hasegawa, a former member of her high school drama club, and Satsumi, her closest friend. However, when Hasegawa overhears them discussing their past romantic involvement with him, he flees. Emi decides to reach out to other members of her high school club, including Tanimoto and Kokko, to assist her with the audition. Tanimoto, who also had a history with Emi, tries to make a move on her again, but Kokko intervenes and sets Emi straight. Around the same time, Satsumi informs Emi that she too must leave, but Emi remains determined to attend the audition in Tokyo. On the bus ride there, she asks fellow passengers to help her practice, and upon arrival in the city, another friend lends a hand. Eventually, Emi successfully makes it to the audition.
Upon initial viewing, “Maybe Woohoo” appears to tell the story of an actress facing numerous obstacles in her pursuit of an audition. However, director Tokuhiro Yasukawa takes a unique approach by incorporating repeated lines (possibly from a stage play) throughout the film, each time with a different meaning. This may lead to ambiguity, but ultimately emphasizes the importance of the emotions and commitment displayed by the actors, rather than the words themselves. As the repetitions continue, the audience begins to shift their focus from the dialogue to the context and performances, further reinforcing this concept.
Another aspect conveyed in the film is the desire for everyone to be a performer, which is exemplified in the bus scene. However, not everyone is willing to put in the effort and possess the perseverance and dedication required in this field. Moreover, the film also touches on the importance of pursuing one’s aspirations despite challenges and the challenges that modern relationships present.
The movie’s approach has a strong theatrical influence, despite taking place in various locations. This is especially noticeable in the acting, where the repetition of lines is the main form of expression. The actors, especially lead actress Reimi Miyamori as Emi, may come across as exaggerated and grandiose in their delivery. However, this style fits well with the overall narrative approach. Additionally, Miyamori’s acting range is showcased throughout the movie as she convincingly portrays a range of emotions, from despair to eagerness to sadness, with equal skill. In fact, her performance could be seen as a promotion for her talent. The rest of the cast also follow this pattern, but in smaller and less significant roles.
Ishigaki’s cinematography in this film has a distinct stage-play feel, but some of his outdoor shots, particularly those in the city, deviate from this style in an entertaining way. The highlight of his work is the way he utilizes the bus setting, creating a memorable scene. Yasukawa’s editing also contributes to the fast pace of the 1-hour film, adding tension throughout.
“Maybe Woohoo” is not exactly a movie for everybody, due to its intensely experimental nature and minimalistic approach, but can be fun on occasion while definitely deserves a watch for Reimi Miyamori’s performance, and the whole stage play within a movie concept.