Review: ‘New Love in Tokyo’

This freewheeling, hedonistic film deals frankly and surprisingly entertainingly with the lives of two young women who work in the Japanese sex industry. Explicit enough to warrant a probable NC-17 rating if it's distribbed Stateside, the film is revealing in subject matter and liberating in style.

This freewheeling, hedonistic film deals frankly and surprisingly entertainingly with the lives of two young women who work in the Japanese sex industry. Explicit enough to warrant a probable NC-17 rating if it’s distribbed Stateside, the film is revealing in subject matter and liberating in style.

The central characters in the film are two friends, Rei and Ayumi. Rei works in an S&M club in the Shibuya district of Tokyo; although she doesn’t have sex with her clients, she dresses scantily in leather and engages in nipple piercing , whipping and other forms of mild torture on tired businessmen. Her main aim in life is to become an actress, and she is a member of a small fringe theater; she’s sexually active with members of the troupe (several of her fellow actors contract venereal diseases as a result).

Ayumi works as a prostitute and is saving her money so she can marry; she’s living with a student who loves her and who has no idea how she earns her money. Quite often, in their free time, the two young women go out to have fun together , flirting with men they meet in bars and even (in the film’s final sequence) swimming naked in the sea.

Writer-director Banmei Takahashi claims this is basically a true story based on the lives of two young women he met while researching the subject. But his style is anything but that of the docudrama, instead harking back to early Godard in its mixture of agitprop and eye-popping (by Japanese standards) sex scenes, with plenty of full-frontal nudity.

His two young actresses, Sawa Suzuki as Rei and Reiko Kataoka as Ayumi, give lively, enjoyable performances as these bright, caring women who live their unusual lives to the full.

New Love in Tokyo

(JAPANESE)

Production

A G Co. Inc. production. Produced by Takaki Mitome. Executive producer, H. Ohtami. Directed, written by Banmei Takahashi.

Crew

Camera (color), Naoki Kayano; editor, Junichi Kikuchi; music, Hako Yamazaki, Tetsuro Kashibuchi; sound, Shin Fukuda; stills, N. Araki. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (noncompeting), Aug. 25, 1995. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Rei ... Sawa Suzuki Ayumi ... Reiko Kataoka
With: Nagare Hagiwara, Tomoro Taguchi.
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