Graduation piece "Passion" earned freshman helmer/scripter Ryusuke Hamaguchi his university degree, but the confessional navel-gazing on screen feels more like high school ruminations on adulthood than post-college life among grownups.

Graduation piece “Passion” earned freshman helmer/scripter Ryusuke Hamaguchi his university degree, but the confessional navel-gazing on screen feels more like high school ruminations on adulthood than post-college life among grownups. Stylistically akin to Western indie dramas set among late twentysomethings (complete with Gershwin riffs), pic’s overlong running time and uninspired editing hamper occasional moments of insightful writing, though ultimately this tale of men running from responsibilities feels too “same old” to register more than a blip. Festival inclusion will be limited to new directors’ series.

At a friends’ gathering in a Spanish restaurant in Yokohama, Tomoya (Ryuta Okamoto) and Kaho announce their engagement. When the dinner ends, the women call it a night but the guys head to Tomoya’s friend Takako’s place, where Kenichiro tells Tomoya he’s not worthy of Kaho’s love, and Takeshi, about to be a father, has a fling with the free-spirited Hana. The next day, when they all pass by Takako’s again, Tomoya suggests they play a truth game, by which time the plot direction has proven to be as immature as the leads. Lack of press material made credits impossible to check.

Passion

Japan

Production

A Tokyo U. of the Arts production. Produced by Satoshi Fujii. Directed, written by Ryusuke Hamaguchi.

Crew

Camera (color, digital), Yuichi Yuzawa; editor, Ryoko Yamamoto. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zabaltegi), Sept. 20, 2008. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Aoba Kawai, Ryuta Okamoto, Fusako Urabe, Nao Okabe, Kiyohiko Shibukawa.
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