A young couple can literally feel each other’s physical discomfort in “A Painful Pair,” a DV-shot feature on the many aspects of love and infatuation that’s sloppily developed and way overstretched. Writer-director Hisashi Saito has plenty of ideas and an interesting cast but often seems at a loss about what to do with them, to frustrating results. Occasional festival dates look likeliest.
Oscillating between straight-faced comedy and pretentiousness, pic shows the unbreakable love of teacher Ryo (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and office worker Natsu (Miako Tadano, kookily charming), who are so in love that if one cuts a wrist, the other bleeds. The playful but possessive pair face advances that could upset their marriage — he from a fat female student (Chihiro Shimano), she from a love-sick colleague (Takuji Suzuki, poker-faced and funny). Hovering on the sidelines are Ryo’s horny ex-g.f. (Miwa Kawagoe) and Natsu’s weird brother (Yuho Tadano) who follows everyone around with his digicam. There’s marvelous material here for a black comedy of manners — which pic occasionally becomes — but the lazy scripting and unnecessary use of handheld DV (bleary in the 35mm blowup) rep a big waste.