You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Don’t Laugh at My Romance

One person's dalliance is another person's heartbreak in the whimsically delivered but seriously intended Japanese meller "Don't Laugh at My Romance."

With: Hiromi Nagasaku, Kenichi Matsuyama, Yu Aoi, Shugo Oshinari, Morio Agata.

One person’s dalliance is another person’s heartbreak in the whimsically delivered but seriously intended Japanese meller “Don’t Laugh at My Romance.” Based on a novel, this sophomore feature by writer-director Nami Iguchi (“The Cat Leaves Home”) features seamless performances and a script that hits all the right marks, its distinctly Japanese rhythms seasoned by a Gallic sensibility. Pic had a small local release in January, but will shine brightest on the fest circuit.

In Saitama, a satellite city of Tokyo, 19-year-old art student Mirume (Kenichi Matsuyama) has a few chance encounters with his college’s new lithographic teacher, Yuri (Hiromi Nagasaku). Twenty years Mirume’s senior, Yuri teaches him the finer points of lithography and then flirtatiously invites him back to her studio-cum-pied a terre so she can sketch him. The audience and Yuri have a good idea where the rendezvous is headed, but Mirume is slower on the uptake, making for a gentle seduction.

With his adoration growing into full-blown obsession, Mirume manages to acquire Yuri’s home address in Kiryu City, in the north. Making the day trip there, he’s greeted by an amiable older man called Mr. Inokuma (Morio Agata). The teen mistakes him for Yuri’s father, but he’s obviously her husband. Yuri is coquettishly amused by Mirume’s naivete, and her hubby is either oblivious, or placidly accustomed, to his wife’s sexual escapades.

Auds may well guess a subsequent plot twist before it is disclosed, but helmer Iguchi skillfully signals narrative revelations without letting their energy escape. Viewer can thus feel the tension in the buildup and benefit from a more detached viewpoint when the truth comes out.

Rest of the plot follows the impact of the illicit romance on both Mirume and fellow art student En (Yu Aoi), who becomes jealous when she finds out Mirume has fallen for an older woman. Firm scripting keeps the tone light but at no point trivializes the emotional content or the protags’ troubles.

Pic is full of charming digressions that create a full-blooded environment for the main narrative: an architecture class, incidental occurrences, characters’ idiosyncratic mannerisms. In less talented hands, these would seem like padding.

Direction is sure-footed, with long takes that sometimes just observe the scenery and allow actors to operate within the frame. Nagasaku is suitably bewitching as the free-spirited teacher, and all her scenes, whether depicting romantic or day-to-day activities, have a genuine sexual intimacy, despite the act itself never being shown. Matsuyama is convincing as the gullible young lover, and the versatile Aoi offers a typically strong perf as En.

Lensing has the dullish look favored by Japanese indies. Music by Hakase-Sun at times deliberately strives for a screwball tone which makes a droll counterpoint to the drama on-screen. Other tech credits are pro.

Pic is also known as “Sex Is No Laughing Matter.” Japanese title (“Don’t Laugh at My Sex”) translates as somewhere between the two English ones.

Don't Laugh at My Romance


Production: A Happinet Corp., Tokyo Theaters, Wowow production. (International sales: Happinet, Tokyo.) Produced by Yoshihiro Nagata, Toshikazu Nishigaya. Directed by Nami Iguchi. Screenplay, Yuka Honcho, Iguchi, based on the novel by Naocola Yamazaki.

Crew: Camera (color), Akihiko Suzuki; editors, Iguchi, Noriko Masuhara, Atushi Unno; music, Hakase-Sun; production designer, Takeo Kimura; sound (DTS Stereo), Shinya Takada. Reviewed at Hong Kong FilMart, March 18, 2008. (Also in Hong Kong Film Festival.) Running time: 137 MIN.

With: With: Hiromi Nagasaku, Kenichi Matsuyama, Yu Aoi, Shugo Oshinari, Morio Agata.

More Film

  • '2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live

    Film Review: ‘2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action’

    The Academy skewed dark in its choice of live-action shorts this year, selecting four films to slit your wrists by — each one featuring child endangerment in a different form — and a fifth, about a diabetic on her death bed, that finds a glimmer of uplift at the other end of life. If that [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Yorgos Lanthimos

    Film News Roundup: 'The Favourite' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Boards Crime Drama

    In today’s film news roundup, Yorgos Lanthimos has set up a crime drama, “Here Lies Daniel Tate” is being adapted, and Donna Langley becomes a member of the USC film school board. DIRECTOR HIRED “The Favourite” producer-director Yorgos Lanthimos has signed on to write and direct crime drama “Pop. 1280,” an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    Hollywood Agents Blast Writers Guild Over New Proposals

    The war between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents has escalated as the two sides battle over the rules on how writers are represented. The latest volley emerged Friday from Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, who accused WGA leaders of misleading its members and asserted that the guild [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

    Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors. “Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content