Japan Cuts 2011: LOVE AND TREACHERY Review

Love and Treachery is an erotic drama that considers its characters at such a distance that we can't really get a feel for either of the modes the movie is going for. The performances are so stiff, so emotionally opaque, as to defy any kind of connection between the viewer and the characters on screen. It takes a bored book editor out to the countryside to find a novelist who's gone missing. What he finds instead is the novelist's sexy mistress whose love for the writer goes well beyond obsessive. Meanwhile, back at the editor's home, his neglected wife strikes up a tentative relationship with a handsome young man at her swim club.

Beyond that, I won't say anything more about the plot out of respect for those of you who appreciate surprises in their films. I will say that the revelations from that point require sinister hearts and white hot passion, and it a movie with a little more blood to it, we could have been watching a nice, hothouse melodrama.

Instead, the movie goes for restraint, for an almost clinical detachment from the events unfolding during the course of the story. The camera stays locked in place for many scenes as though locking them in time. This leads to a lot of pretty shots but keeps reinforcing the feeling that the moving pictures are never really moving. Even during what should be a torrid sex scene, director Hitoshi Yazaki films the two characters in an almost documentary style--objective, distant, and cold.

We never see really more than one emotion from most of the characters, save the editor's wife who moves from suspicion to intrigue to finally, during the film's climax, profound shock. She seemed to know what kind of movie she was in if the other actors did not.

Love and Treachery is screening on Saturday, July 16th as part of Japan Cuts. You can find out more details about the screening on the Japan Society site.

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