Rotterdam 2014 Review: THE PINKIE Is Fun, But Comes Up A Bit Short

(Talk about a film trying hard to wrap you around its little finger...)

Lisa Takeba's feature film debut The Pinkie was one of the many World Premieres this year at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. A flashy little comedy drama with science fiction, crime and horror genre influences, it also features a totally absurd plot and ditto characters. Read on...


The Story:

Young slacker Ryosuke drifts from pretty girl to pretty girl, but his latest conquest turns out to have a Yakuza boyfriend. Before Ryosuke can say "Wait, what?", gangsters chop of his pinkie as punishment. The pinkie ends up with Momoke, a girl who has been stalking Ryosuke from kindergarten onward. Delighted with her find, Momoke buys a cloning kit and uses the pinkie to grow her own Ryosuke-clone.

Pinkie-IFFR-review-ext1.jpgThe plan works, but to both Momoke's and Ryosuke's dismay, the Pinkie-clone turns out to become far better human than Ryosuke ever was, resulting in much soul-searching for all of them.


The Film:

On the plus side, The Pinkie looks good. Lisa Takeba has an eye for color, and many of the shots in her film have been stylized to the point that you can use screenshots as works of art, all by themselves. It is also at times a genuinely funny film. "Quirky" is a tricky quality to pull off successfully, but the story often suddenly veers into different, indeed colorful directions, and benefits from that.

It is therefore a pity that the film lacks a strong middle part. At the start The Pinkie has a breakneck pace, garish visuals, and daft-but-funny jokes. But these all leave the film when Ryosuke takes center stage and starts to use the Pinkie-clone for his own nefarious plans. At only 65 minutes, this is quite a short film yet it manages to stall at the halfway point, although the speed thankfully returns for the film's hilarious finale. Note that the ending does also contain some Nishimura Yoshihiro-style splattergore moments, and one of the grossest non-bloody deaths possible.

That's not the only exploitation in the film either. The Pinkie features constant strong objectification of humans. That in itself is probably not too surprising in a film about a stalker building her perfect human, but it's not just the clone who is used and shown as a "thing" here. For some of the supporting roles, Lisa Takeba used glamour models, and you get to see a lot of skin from them. Take the very voluptuous, pretty promiscuous nurse as an example: she's good for a couple of lewd and daft jokes, and a major piece of male fantasy eyecandy. Token titillation, token violence against poor defenseless women, it's all in here as well, and worthy of an eyebrow-raise or two.

Still, through all the weirdness and the occasionally distasteful elements, there is a lot of heart shining through. In the end there are also some sweet messages about love and human worth, without the film becoming too preachy. It makes The Pinkie hard to dislike. Audiences at the IFFR thought so as well, and awarded the film a respectable 3.6 out of 5.
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