×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘R100’

More wacky than provocative in the end, Hitoshi Matsumoto's S&M-themed item could become a cult fetish on VOD.

With:

Nao Ohmori, Mao Daichi, Shinobu Terajima, Hairi Katagiri, Ai Tominaga, Eriko Sato, Naomi Watanabe, Gin Maeda, You, Haruki Nishimoto, Suzuki Matsuo, Atsuro Watabe, Lindsay Hayward. (Japanese, English dialogue)

If a dominatrix is one who takes total control of her passive partner, then “R100” is the cinematic equivalent of a kinky femme fatale in black leather and stiletto heels, cracking a whip and a smile. At least for the film’s first half, Japanese writer-director Hitoshi Matsumoto gets a kick out of tantalizing and torturing the viewer with his tale of a meek department store salesman whose bondage-club contract for a year’s worth of sexual masochism proves unbreakable — and painful to boot. Albeit more wacky than provocative in the end, the Drafthouse Films pickup could become a cult fetish on VOD.

Matsumoto’s gigantically funny “Big Man Japan” (2007) hardly prepares one for his stylistic sadism here. So bleached of color that it’s nearly black-and-white, “R100” begins in full-on noir mode, with Takafumi Katayama (Nao Ohmori) taking a beating from a cig-smoking, trenchcoat-clad bondage queen, his bruised body tumbling down a flight of stairs in a scene that playfully recalls the S&M-inflected classic “Kiss Me Deadly.” The gag’s visual punchline is a series of cheesy CGI ripples emanating from the head of the victim, signifying his dumbfounded ecstasy.

Soon signing on for a year of such blissful degradation, Takafumi is told he’ll never know when one of the wicked dominatrices of the Bondage gentlemen’s club will bring the pain. Thus the viewer is kept on edge during languorous interludes that would appear benign if not for the threat — or promise — of sudden attack. One hilarious early scene, a showcase for Matsumoto’s razor-sharp comic timing, has Takafumi suffering the humiliation of having his sushi rolls repeatedly squished by a femme’s fist.

When the Bondage boss asks an increasingly aggrieved Takafumi, “Isn’t this what you wanted?” the nerved-up fan of hardcore genre fare becomes mindful of the “contract” he signed upon entering the theater. Alas, Matsumoto ends up tipping the meta scale a touch too hard with intermittent scenes of censors screening a movie called “R100,” directed by a century-old man in a long white beard. Eventually the film runs out of satiric steam altogether, resorting to a lame war-movie climax with Bondage’s seven-foot tall CEO (Lindsay Hayward) as a cross between a distaff Bond villain and a Third Reich heavy.

Shifting from gentle piano music to jazzy pop and ’70s-style disco, the score by Shuichi Sakamoto and Shuichiro Toki mirrors the gamut-running pic itself. Sound work periodically breaks total silence with David Lynchian blasts of noise. Other tech credits are tops.

Film Review: 'R100’

Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Spotlight), Jan. 19, 2014. (Also in Toronto Film Festival — Midnight Madness.) Running time: 99 MIN.

Production:

(Japan) A Drafthouse Films (in North America) release of a Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. production, in association with Yoshimoto Creative Agency, Phantom Films. Produced by Akihiko Okamoto. Executive producers, Hisaya Shiraiwa, Hiroshi Osaki.

Crew:

Directed, written by Hitoshi Matsumoto. Camera (color), Kazunari Tanaka; editor, Yoshitaka Honda; music, Shuichi Sakamoto, Shuichiro Toki; production designer, Etsuko Aiko; costume designers, Rie Araki, Daisuke Iga; sound, Yoshitaka Honda; visual effects supervisor, Kentaro Nishio; associate producers, Natsue Takemoto, Keisuke Konishi; assistant director, Tomohide Sano; casting, Masunobu Motokawa, Yumi Takada.

With:

Nao Ohmori, Mao Daichi, Shinobu Terajima, Hairi Katagiri, Ai Tominaga, Eriko Sato, Naomi Watanabe, Gin Maeda, You, Haruki Nishimoto, Suzuki Matsuo, Atsuro Watabe, Lindsay Hayward. (Japanese, English dialogue)

More Film

  • First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’

    First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’ Feature Documentary

    Diego Maradona waves to raucous Napoli fans before heading into a media scrum and press conference in the first clip from the feature documentary about the soccer superstar. “Diego Maradona” is the third film from the team behind the award-winning “Senna” and “Amy,” with Asif Kapadia directing and James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin producing. They [...]

  • Raising Hell: The Life and Times

    Film Review: 'Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins'

    One of the more entertaining as well as insightful political commentators of the past half-century is paid a suitably entertaining tribute in “Raise Hell.” A long tall Texan too amusingly outrageous to draw real resentment from most of her targets, Molly Ivins nonetheless aimed stinging criticism at political figures both national and in her native [...]

  • The Lighthouse

    Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Unveils Lineup

    Robert Eggers’s anticipated “The Lighthouse” with Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, Bertrand Bonello’s “Zombi Child” and Japanese helmer Takashi Miike’s “First Love” are set to unspool at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight under the new leadership of Paolo Moretti. Described by Moretti as a “hypnotic two-hander” powered by Pattinson and Dafoe, “The Lighthouse” is fantasy horror film [...]

  • Media Luna Acquires ‘We Had It

    Cannes Festival: Media Luna Takes ‘We Had It Coming,’ ‘The Friendly Man’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    In the run-up to next month’s Cannes Festival, Cologne-based Media Luna New Films has acquired international rights to “We Had It Coming,” starring Natalie Krill (“Wynonna Earp,” “Below Her Mouth”) and Brazil’s “The Friendly Man,” one of the standouts at Ventana Sur’s strong Copia Final showcase of near-finished Latin American movies. MK2 Mile End will [...]

  • ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Stars Make Emotional Speeches

    ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Stars Make Emotional Speeches at Historic Marvel Premiere

    If more than twenty worldwide blockbusters over ten years sounds like a big undertaking, try locking up the cell phones and smartwatches of Hollywood’s most important people for four hours. Only a franchise with the cache of the “Avengers” series could have A-list talent, celebrity fans, agents and executives gladly turn over their gadgets for [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' First Reactions: 'Most Emotional, Most Epic MCU Film'

    The end is finally here. “Avengers: Endgame” had its world premiere Monday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center and reactions on social media from fans, journalists and critics are already pouring in. The reaction has so far been almost universally positive, with several commentors warning fans of the movie’s emotional elements. Brandon Davis wrote [...]

  • Josh Brolin, Kathryn Boyd. Josh Brolin,

    'Avengers: Endgame's' Josh Brolin: Thanos' Butt Is a 'Beautiful, Purple Peach'

    On the eve of “Avengers: Endgame’s” world premiere, everyone’s thoughts have turned to the one crucial detail that could be the difference between life or death for the Avengers: Does Thanos have a butt? “I don’t know what that whole thing is about! I really don’t!” Josh Brolin, who plays Thanos, told Variety‘s Marc Malkin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content