Movie review / ‘Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy’ (M)

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“Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” (M) *** and a half

DO you remember Japanese writer/director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car”, Japan’s nomination for this year’s foreign language Oscar for best film? 

Written while COVID-19 restrictions were preventing completion of that film, Hamaguchi now brings us another film with lots of good stuff to exercise our brains and please our tastes, with this trilogy of stories in which women let fly with what women might hope for from relationships.

In “Magic (or Something Less Assuring)” Meiko must choose to work out what to do about her best friend dating an ex-boyfriend for whom her feelings are a bit mixed.

In “Door Wide Open” a mother (Katsuki Mori) sets out to honey-trap an academic (Kiyohiko Shibukawa) who’s written a successful erotic novel and who demeaned the rather dull younger man she’s been seeing outside her marriage only to jumpstart what sounds like a more titillating adulterous option. Their eventual desires develop when she reads aloud from his erotic story, before a silly mistake destroys both their livelihoods.

In “Once Again” a virus crashes all electronic communication temporarily and people must revert to writing letters. Computer engineer Moka (Fusako Urabe) decides to attend her high school reunion. Next morning, she runs into Nana (Aoba Kawai), who she believes to be the classmate for whom she had been looking for at the reunion. At Nana’s home, the two women reminisce. Eventually, it appears neither has any real memory of the other and their attraction is instead a complex mixture of memories, repressed desires, and the need for a connection. Pressed about her life, Nana tells Moka: “Objectively speaking, I’m happy.” Later, she reveals: “Time is slowly killing me. I’m not passionate about anything anymore.” 

Any character in these three stories could have said that and meant it; people trapped in moments they wish or believe should have come about differently. They build from the rather slow “Magic…” through the specifically real erotic passage of “Door Wide Open” to “Once Again” which had me at first smiling then becoming anxious about what had unfolded between the two women.

At Dendy and Palace Electric

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Movie review / ‘Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy’ (M)

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