Tuesday, December 2, 2014

614. Ai no corrida/In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

Running Time: 102 minutes
Directed By: Nagisa Oshima
Written By: Nagisa Oshima
Main Cast: Eiko Matsuda, Tatsuya Fuji, Aoi Nakajima, Yasuko Matsui, Meika Seri
Click here to view the trailer


So here's the deal: My wife and I are SUPPOSED to have Tuesdays and Wednesdays off together, but since her boss is a dumb son of a bitch and wrecked the schedule this month, she's off to work today and I'm left alone with a vow to watch as many movies as I can in the eight hours that she's gone. I'm hoping to get in something like five today, so suck it in and get your spectacles on, cause there's reviewin' to be done! Up first...a bit of erotic fiction!

The plot is actually taken from a real life story circa 1930s Japan and tells the tale of a young prostitute named Sada Abe (Matsuda) who begins having an affair with the husband of her brothel madam, Kichizo san (Fuji) (I guess he's the one having the affair then, she's just the willing participant). At first, everything is under the encouragement of Kichizo, professing his attraction for the young. pretty Abe, but after a while the feelings of lust become mutual and the two take to sneaking off to quench their thirst for one another. After a longer while, it becomes clear that Abe is letting this affair go to her head, threatening to sever her lover's penis if he continues to make love to his wife. Kichizo usually laughs off these threats and goes on "giving it" to Abe, but clearly Sada is mentally losing her grip with reality. Toward the climax (no pun intended), Sada and Kichizo begin to toy with sexual asphyxiation, as Sada's insanity is brought into serious question. To be totally honest with you, there's a TON of sex scenes and at times, it feels like that's all the film is - just a series of scenes where the director can push the envelope a little more, sneak in a penis shot or a vagina close-up. Therefore, that's just about the gist of the plot and if you tackle this one, remember, there are explicit sex scenes and it's probably something you don't want to watch with mom.


Boy, what can you say about this one? Is it simply the case of a director hiding behind "artistic expression" and feeding his own perverted fantasies or are there actually good intentions here, with sex just used as a work of art or a way to get the point across? We'll never know, really. Of course someone who just wanted to shoot a glorified pornography and pass it off as a genuine film is going to say that it was with all the intention of artistry and self expression - perverts don't tend to admit to being so. I guess the film really wasn't THAT bad, if you can put up with the constant sex scenes. I'm no prude, so I was able to look past it, but I will tell you that I watched with remote in hand, constantly fluctuating the volume, hoping my wife wouldn't walk in on me (I started this last night) and wonder if I'd decided to pop in a porno after she went to bed.

At the heart, there actually IS a pretty genuine love story. The very few scenes where the two mains weren't having intercourse, were quite powerful. How bout that beautiful scene where the two walk in the rain, carrying a parasol and decide to scare a passerby. Was that not a beautiful scene, that showcased the pure love that existed between the two characters. Would that scene have been just as effective without all the sex stuff surrounding it? I tend to think not. I feel like the director suffocated us so much by keeping us in the bedroom and forcing sex down our throat that it made scenes like the rain scene and the scene where Sada is on the train, taking deep whiffs of Kichizo's kimono, all the more powerful. Perhaps it was the intention of the director to purposely suffocate us with sex, to make us feel not unlike Kichizo did. You really got the sense that after a while he was really regretting his decision to approach Sada in the first place. She CONSTANTLY hounded him for sex, wanting to get creative and then ultimately the strangling stuff. Watch as she forces him to say things like "please strangle me" or "I like being strangled", of course he doesn't! But, he either truly loves this woman OR he's frightened of her and what she'll do if he even hints at breaking off their affair. It's up to the viewer decide which one. At the end, when Kichizo dies, are we viewing a man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his lover or are we viewing a murder victim? The interpretation is up to the individual viewer.

I can't really say which side I fall on, because this is really a case where writing the review has really opened me up about this movie. It's rare that I have unformed opinions about the 1001 movies when I sit down to write about them, but if I do, I find that the writing usually brings my true feelings to the surface. Sure, you could chalk this up as a porno and it kind of is, but I'm on the side of Nagisa Oshima when he pleads "art film". Beware if you watch it and be ready for massive loads of pee pees and wee wees, but I think the mature, intelligent viewer can find things to really dissect about this movie and find that the suffocation that the viewer feels by the overuse of sex is intentional and used as a device to get us into the main male character's head.

RATING: 6.5/10  I can't go '7', maybe because I'd feel like a perv myself, but one that could definitely grow on me and one I'll be contemplating throughout the day, week.


December 2, 2014  7:12am


  1. Wow, two in one morning..
    And what a nicely contrasting pair.
    I'm sure a lot of people out there will get upset about the really rather graphic portrayals of sex, violence etc in this one. I may disagree, but you can certainly see why.
    Andrew, the only copy I was able to get hod of in the UK claimed to be full version, but even that one felt t had to blank out half the screen near the beginning as it showed child nudity in a way that could be seen as exploitative. Did yours have such 'censorship'.. or maybe that entire scene was just cut - as it has been in many editions.
    Anywat.. Thi film has become so famouse for the amount of sex in it, it sort of comes with it's own cloud of opinion already attached .. and self appointed guardiansof morals have already branded you a perv for watching it.
    Errrmm.. if you are a genuine perv who wants to get off on combining mutilation with sex .. there are a lot of much easier ways of getting your kicks than ploughing through a lot of talk and agonising in japanese to get your kicks. Or so I'm told.

    Any way.. not an easy film to watch. The sex was fine.. the violence .. well, I'm not so keen on that. The question is did those elements add to the message, or the story, the film was trying to give us?
    As happens all to often, I fear at times it distracted.. You are either wincing.. or you are worrying a friend (or in your case your wife) would walk in in the middle and go "what the..."

    I'm sounding as if I'm down on this one.. No, not really.

    If your wife was to walk into any film and mis-understand.. I'd rather this one than 'Pink Flamingos' which I found much worse.. and lacking any of the redeeming features.
    What I'm trying to say is that this may have a bit too much graphic representation.. if you are counting (and judging on) the number of nipples, pubes etc, this is off the scale.. but I will come down of the 'Valid' side (just), where as 'Flamingoes' I'd write off as trash.

    And as for Gigi.. well, thats coming up next isn't it?

    1. I WAS distracted by those sorts of things, although even if my wife were to walk in on me, I'm sure she wouldn't care one way or the other. It's not like I'm an untrusted husband who often sneaks around watching smut or something. BUT, you're right, I was made uncomfortable throughout the film. I totally agree on siding with this over Flamingos though, no question.


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