You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

I’m Flash!

Toshiaki Toyoda's latest is an insinuating oddity that throws together yakuza types and a rock-star-like cult leader.

Cast:
With: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kento Nagayama, Itsuji Itao, Yukiya Kitamura, Tatsuya Nakamura, Kiko Mizuhara, Michiyo Okusu, Mayu Harada.

The latest from idiosyncratic Nipponese helmer Toshiaki Toyoda (“Blue Spring,” “Hanging Garden”), “I’m Flash!” is an insinuating oddity that throws together yakuza types and a rock-star-like cult leader. Enigmatic narrative, absurdist humor and a striking package make this a rarefied curio that will delight some viewers and baffle or bore others. Already one of the writer-helmer’s most successful pics at home, thanks to some cast names, it’s a wild card for offshore distribs that will eventually find its own cult following in home formats.

Young Master Rui (Tatsuya Fujiwara) is the handsome, charismatic leader of a quasi-religious/self-help church called “Life Is Beautiful,” founded by his grandmother. His mother (Michiyo Okusu) and sister (Mayu Harada) maintain waspish control over the business/marketing side of things; a brother (Yukiya Kitamura) transitioning to womanhood drily observes his sibling’s ebbing moral and spiritual health.

Indeed, Rui has grown quite cynical about his job, spending too much time partying and womanizing. Both have finally landed him in serious trouble: A girl he picked up at a bar lies comatose in a hospital after an accident involving his sports car and a now-dead motorcyclist. That fateful ride, in which Rui’s date (Kiko Mizuhara) revealed an ominous pre-existing agenda, unfolds in flashbacks throughout.

But most of the film takes place in the present tense, as Rui hides from police and media at his rather lavish seaside manse. Newly hired as bodyguards are three enforcers who have never met before: a grizzled, coarse underworld veteran (Shigeru Nakano of long-running punk band Anarchy); a punky, impetuous young thug (Kento Nagayama); and a cucumber-cool number (Ryuhei Matsuda) who doesn’t bat an eye at their host’s eccentricities — or possibly at anything, ever.

The precise point here is unclear, and some will find “I’m Flash!” a tease with little tangible substance. But Toyoda keeps things consistently intriguing, particularly on an aesthetic level. From striking locations to fanciful design contributions, everything looks great in Toyotaro Shigemori’s anamorphic lensing; a good instrumental rock score by an all-star ensemble assembled for the film heightens the general aura of coolness.

I'm Flash!

Japan

Production: A Horipro, Pony Canyon, Phantom Film Co., Wowow and Pony Canyon Enterprise production. (International sales: Phantom Film, Tokyo.) Produced by Shuji Danzen, Takaaki Hirabe, Hiroyuki Ishigaki, Akira Morishige. Executive producers, Yoshitaka Hori, Hiroaki Kitano, Keisuke Konishi, Yosuke Miyake, Tetsuya Nasuno, Atsushi Sugai, Daisaku Takeuchi, Shinya Wazaki. Directed, written by Toshiaki Toyoda.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Toyotaro Shigemori; editor, Masaki Murakami; music, I'm Flash! Band; production designer, Mitsuo Harada; sound (Dolby), Junichi Shima; assistant director, Megumi Sawada. Reviewed at Calgary Film Festival (Spotlight on Japan), Sept. 28, 2012. Running time: 92 MIN.

With: With: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kento Nagayama, Itsuji Itao, Yukiya Kitamura, Tatsuya Nakamura, Kiko Mizuhara, Michiyo Okusu, Mayu Harada.

More Film

  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle

    'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' Tops International Box Office With China Debut

    The latest from idiosyncratic Nipponese helmer Toshiaki Toyoda (“Blue Spring,” “Hanging Garden”), “I’m Flash!” is an insinuating oddity that throws together yakuza types and a rock-star-like cult leader. Enigmatic narrative, absurdist humor and a striking package make this a rarefied curio that will delight some viewers and baffle or bore others. Already one of the […]

  • Bria Vinaite is 'The Florida Project's'

    Why Bria Vinaite, as a Loving Mother From Hell, Is the 'The Florida Project's' Not-So-Secret Weapon

    The latest from idiosyncratic Nipponese helmer Toshiaki Toyoda (“Blue Spring,” “Hanging Garden”), “I’m Flash!” is an insinuating oddity that throws together yakuza types and a rock-star-like cult leader. Enigmatic narrative, absurdist humor and a striking package make this a rarefied curio that will delight some viewers and baffle or bore others. Already one of the […]

  • James Toback sexual harassment

    Dozens of Women Accuse Director James Toback of Sexual Harassment

    The latest from idiosyncratic Nipponese helmer Toshiaki Toyoda (“Blue Spring,” “Hanging Garden”), “I’m Flash!” is an insinuating oddity that throws together yakuza types and a rock-star-like cult leader. Enigmatic narrative, absurdist humor and a striking package make this a rarefied curio that will delight some viewers and baffle or bore others. Already one of the […]

  • Robert Hawkins, Variety Rome Correspondent, Dies

    Bob Hawkins, Longtime Variety Journalist in Italy, Dies at 93

    The latest from idiosyncratic Nipponese helmer Toshiaki Toyoda (“Blue Spring,” “Hanging Garden”), “I’m Flash!” is an insinuating oddity that throws together yakuza types and a rock-star-like cult leader. Enigmatic narrative, absurdist humor and a striking package make this a rarefied curio that will delight some viewers and baffle or bore others. Already one of the […]

  • Boo 2! A Madea Halloween

    Box Office: Tyler Perry's 'Boo 2!' Tops Downbeat Weekend With $21.7 Million

    The latest from idiosyncratic Nipponese helmer Toshiaki Toyoda (“Blue Spring,” “Hanging Garden”), “I’m Flash!” is an insinuating oddity that throws together yakuza types and a rock-star-like cult leader. Enigmatic narrative, absurdist humor and a striking package make this a rarefied curio that will delight some viewers and baffle or bore others. Already one of the […]

  • Aida Begic Director Aida Begic poses

    Antalya Festival: Aida Begic on ‘Never Leave Me,’ Shooting Movies with Kids

    The latest from idiosyncratic Nipponese helmer Toshiaki Toyoda (“Blue Spring,” “Hanging Garden”), “I’m Flash!” is an insinuating oddity that throws together yakuza types and a rock-star-like cult leader. Enigmatic narrative, absurdist humor and a striking package make this a rarefied curio that will delight some viewers and baffle or bore others. Already one of the […]

  • Antalya Fest Opens with Walken, Syrian

    Antalya Festival Opens with Walken, Syrian Refugee Crisis-themed ‘Never Leave Me’

    The latest from idiosyncratic Nipponese helmer Toshiaki Toyoda (“Blue Spring,” “Hanging Garden”), “I’m Flash!” is an insinuating oddity that throws together yakuza types and a rock-star-like cult leader. Enigmatic narrative, absurdist humor and a striking package make this a rarefied curio that will delight some viewers and baffle or bore others. Already one of the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content