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I Hate But Love

Posted by martinteller on February 2, 2012

A TV/radio star, disillusioned with his stagnant (and chaste) relationship of 2 years, abandons his contractual obligations and sets off on a 900 mile journey in a decrepit jeep in search of the meaning of “pure love.”  Meanwhile, his manager/girlfriend obsessively chases after him, along with a horde of media vultures.  Alternately a zany road trip adventure, a romantic comedy, a cautionary fable about media frenzy and perhaps an extended metaphor for sexual frustration, Kurahara’s film zigs and zags with unbridled glee.  Superstar Yujiro Ishihara (also from Kurahara’s earlier I Am Waiting and Ichikawa’s Alone on the Pacific the following year) and Ruriko Asaoka (who would play Ishihara’s sister in Pacific and also appear in Ichikawa’s sterile take on the 47 Ronin chestnut) give it their all, going from adorably bored to manically driven to passionate lovers.  Both had previously starred in Kurahara’s Ginza Love Story, which I’m now anxious to see, and had large roles in the enjoyable Mifune vehicle Incident at Blood Pass.  Of the two, I have to say I enjoyed Asaoka’s performance more, with so much meaty hysteria to chew on, but Ishihara is quite fine as well.

The film’s aesthetics are a delight.  The candy-colored visuals really pop, especially in the earlier Tokyo scenes.  Kurahara has a fun time switching up angles and looking for unusual shots, much like a Jean Vigo.  The music is a freewheeling range of pop, jazz and more traditional scoring, and even a flamenco-style ditty sung by Ishihara himself.  Where the movie falters is in its middle section, which spins its wheels in somewhat repetitive scenarios as Ishihara attempts to evade the press and the increasingly desperate Asaoka.  For a film that starts out so giddy and snappy, it’s a bit of a buzzkill to lose momentum like that.  It’s a minor speed bump, though, and overall it’s an enjoyable, oddball piece of work.  3 for 3 on the Kurahara set so far.  Rating: Very Good


2 Responses to “I Hate But Love”

  1. Ginza Love Story is definitely worth it. In addition to the street scenes of Ginza circa 1962 there is some really great music from Chiemi Eri, who is now my favorite singer, at least for this month.

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