Gate of Flesh

Gate of Flesh ★★★★

Suzuki's first feature I see about prostitution and the morally and economically decadent post-war Tokyo was a shockingly graphic and equally moving exploitation film where the gallons of graphic content which included violence, sex, prostitution, nudity, alcoholism and torture , were added for a good purpose: to mirror the country's loss of identity and stability with the individual's loss of humanity.

On one hand, we get glimpses of poverty in a dog-eat-dog society where "invaders" of the territory are attacked and disposed of, like this group of prostitutes practice, which is exactly the futile mentality of war. On the other hand, we have Maya, the central character who first assimilates the loss of her relatives by adapting her emotions and mentality to those of the group she joins, but then slowly begins to rediscover her humanity when she starts to fall in love and gives way to her feelings once again, which is one of the rules that, if broken, cannot go unpunished by this animalistic, dark microcosm of lost women.

Both the graphic content and the social themes are good complements, even if a little bit too dissonant, to invite audiences to think about what constitutes a country and what makes us human in the middle of oppressive circumstances (or governments!). Added to this are dreamlike visual effects which mainly consist in coloring the frame in its entirety with different tints, or juxtaposing images to reflect either passion, memories or war madness, stunts that are pulled off with great effect. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to call this a predecessor of exploitation films, but unlike most of them, this one has many things to say.


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