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The Egoists

Sexual sparks shimmer throughout "The Egoists," a low-key but stirring lovers-on-the-run yarn that reps Nipponese helmer Ryuichi Hiroki's return to the sensual, soul-baring explorations of narcissism and needinesss in his independent works ("Vibrator," "It's Only Talk," "M").

Cast:
With: Kengo Kora, Anne Suzuki, Kaoru Kobayashi, Nao Omori, Tomorowo Taguchi, Mako Midori.

Sexual sparks shimmer throughout “The Egoists,” a low-key but stirring lovers-on-the-run yarn that reps Nipponese helmer Ryuichi Hiroki’s return to the sensual, soul-baring explorations of narcissism and needinesss in his independent works (“Vibrator,” “It’s Only Talk,” “M”). Too hard-edged and slow-brewing compared with Hiroki’s demure romantic hits (“April Bride,” “The Lightning Tree”), the pic fizzled upon local release but has fest-play appeal.

To square up gambling debts, yakuza bit player Kazu (Kengo Kora, “M”) roughs up patrons at a girlie bar in Tokyo’s Kabukicho district, and runs off with pole-dancer Machiko (Anne Suzuki, a teen sweetheart-turned-bombshell). They shack up in Kazu’s hometown in Wakayama, where he is the pampered son of landed gentry. The pic’s Japanese title means “scorn,” and the protags encounter it everywhere, until their free spirits (expressed in joyous, liberating sex scenes) degenerate into ennui and self-loathing. Kora is fittingly volatile as an insecure brat, while Suzuki plumbs tremendous emotional depths as Machiko. Atsuhiro Nabeshima’s coolly desaturated HD lensing of urban sleaze lends lyrical bleakness to this tale of destructive, consuming passion.

The Egoists

Japan

Production: A Kadokawa Shoten Co. release of "The Egoists" Film Partners presentation of a Studio 3 production. (International sales: Kadokawa Shoten Co., Tokyo.) Produced by Akira Morishige, Executive producer, Yasushi Shiina. Co-producers, Hiroyuki Ikeda, Haruo Umekawa, Morishige. Directed by Ryuichi Hiroki. Screenplay, Satoko Okudera, based on the novel "Keibetsu" by Kenji Nakagami.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Atsuhiro Nabeshima; editor, Junichi Kikuchi; music/music supervisor, Nobuhito Ikehata; art director, Tomoyuki Maruo. Reviewed on DVD, Hong Kong, Jan. 31, 2012. (In Udine Far East Film Festival.) Running time: 136 MIN.

With: With: Kengo Kora, Anne Suzuki, Kaoru Kobayashi, Nao Omori, Tomorowo Taguchi, Mako Midori.(Japanese dialogue)

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