Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tokyo Decadence

Topazu; Erotic drama, Japan, 1992, D: Ryu Murakami, S: Miho Nikaido, Sayoko Amano, Tenmei Kano, Kan Mikami, Masahiko Shimada

Tokyo. Ai (22) works as an elite prostitute who satisfies the perverted, often SM wishes of crazy rich people. One man likes to tie her up and tranquillize her with a needle while he has intercourse with her. A mobster orders her to strip for 3 hours and likes to watch her while he has intercourse with his own wife. The third customer falls unconscious because he wanted the two prostitutes to strangle him during masturbation, while some other guy wants Ai to pretend to be dead because he likes necrophilia. Then Ai meets a mistress during another job and the two of them exchange a few friendly moments. The whole time Ai only thinks about a former customer she fell deeply in love with, Mr. Sudo, but he doesn't want any contact with her anymore because he got married.

What ever your opinion about intercourse, you have to admit it has a big influence on art. A lot of pornographic movies quickly loose their intrigue due to banality and cheap approach that doesn't explore any deeper issues, but director Ryu Mirukami succeeded precisely in that "mission impossible" - to create an erotic film that is ambitious, demanding and quality. "Tokyo Decadence", an adaptation of his own novel, shows a portrait of an innocent prostitute, Ai, who satisfies the perverted side of the Tokyo customers, crafting a sharp film without compromise: for instance, for one of her customers, a mobster, she has to crawl on the floor while a loud vibrator is tied up under her genitals, but after her job is done, the mobster shows a surprisingly compassionate side that gives that episode a new dimension, by telling her: "Don't ever think you don't have any abilities. You only do that to have an excuse for you life". Such an unexpected touching moment is a real jewel. Somewhere towards the end, Ai meets a mistress who becomes her friend and tells her something that tells a lot about the theme of the story: "I'm not rich. Japan is rich. Wealth scares people and makes them into masochists. Those are my customers I live off". Many critics dismiss "Decadence" only as a cheap B film, but despite it's seemingly cold tone, the finale where Ai hopelessly searches for Mr. Sudo, the only customer who ever showed tenderness towards her, is precisely so moving and tragic because it shows how love can't be found in a cold world where relationships of the people have been reduced to mechanical impulses.


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