✨ christie ✨’s review published on Letterboxd:
(pre-review note: this is literally fucking scripted exclusively by two women and based off a manga written by a woman. you are blatantly choosing to ignore that this film's creative team is largely female and erasing their roles simply because you came in with auteur-theory-poisoned preconceptions that you want affirmed.)
i’m fucking bored of the neopuritan sensibility surrounding queer art that seems to call for a sexless perma-utopia in how the lives of people like us are transmitted to the screen. it’s like, yeah cool i can watch something unchallenging albeit comforting that i’ll forget the next day or i can make myself watch something that feels like the cinematic equivalent of an exposed nerve and gives me images that allow me to receive catharsis, that allow me to find a controlled environment in which i can reflect on old hurts without risking hurt to myself.
representation politics are often a hackneyed farce in that they are used as distractions for greater systemic issues, like maybe you can excuse a government that continues to exert the same violences over and over again if there are more women in office. the fact that this is directed by a man has no effect on what i felt here; i’ve only seen two of hiroki’s films but he is so adept at crafting a hyper-emotional cinematic language to delve into sidelined and vulnerable women that if i saw these two films (the other being vibrator) without any knowledge of the director i would have no doubt that he was a woman. i can only imagine, by this logic, i feel like if happy together came out today and was in a comparable realm of accessibility to the general public as this it would have a sub-3 average from this userbase with many asking why a straight man is directing a film that focuses on the hurt two men in a failing relationship cause each other. this has a lengthy sex scene, yes, and some nudity, yes, but if you sexualise two women attempting to console each other in a bathtub or a woman cleaning blood off herself in a shower after killing an abuser youre fucking weird. say what you want about the sex scene that i sobbed through, it included no scissoring, which is always a plus!!! this has a near-unforgivable 2.1 (2.0 now!!! what the fuck) average, presumably for this “male gaze” that is nowhere near as egregious as even films i love like the handmaiden or mulholland drive, and especially not films i hate like blue is the warmest colour, and also for the fact that it does not end positively.
it could be far worse in the stakes of misery (like look at any of the fucking lars von trier films that have 4 star averages here), though i did deduct half a star for the film not ending two scenes before it did largely due to the scene it could have ended at being so tender and bittersweet compared to the more straightforwardly sad direct finale. but like i’m a lesbian and these are many of the aches i recognise among myself and others, and i also recognise these modes of intimacy and fear. i shed tears during the scene in which rei engaged in a casual sex act with a man, clearly as a form of metaphorical self-harm, because it spoke so fully to the way i have hurt to deny my love to the world. but with every moment of bitter sadness, every pained word exchanged, there is relief and momentary peace and fields of green so vivid that it could only be artificial. but isn’t that all you need? something pretty to look at with someone before it all comes closing in?
(postscript: NONE of you are allowed to watch hiroki’s vibrator because i fear you will attempt to disguise your resentment towards people with mental health issues as feminism by calling the protagonist a manic pixie dream girl. already seen someone do this for anno’s ritual!)