Moonlight Whispers (1999)
The directorial debut of Akihiko Shiota is an unusually frank yet oddly touching film about unconditional love and abnormal desires. Takuya (Kenji Mizuhashi) and Satsuki (Tsugumi) are high school students who realize their mutual attraction during Kendo practice. Their relationship begins conventionally, with hand-holding, awkward petting, and eventually furtive sex. Yet Takuya feels restrained in his inability to show his true proclivities. The radiantly beautiful Satsuki does not take her boyfriend seriously when he solemnly announces that he wants to be her dog -- until she discovers a drawer in Takuya's room full of her used socks, photographs of her legs and arms, and an audio tape of her urinating. Confused, disgusted, and heartbroken, she breaks up with him. But Takuya continues to follow her, even when she is on dates with other men, pleading with her to take him back as her slave. Initially she resists, until her pent-up anger and frustrated love come to a head, and she realizes that she likes to watch him suffer. "I feel great watching you cry," she proclaims, with her foot shoved up against his chest. A fascinating power struggle then ensues. Although Satsuki at first abuses Takuya psychologically, having him witness her servicing her suitors, and then ultimately physically, she finds herself submitting to his abnormal, pure love. Shiota served as the assistant director to Kiyoshi Kurosawa, whose imprint is clearly visible on this film. As in Kurosawa's work, Shiota takes the genre picture and bends it into bizarre uncharted territory, as a way of addressing fundamental philosophical questions. After the shock of this passionately romantic film's subject matter subsides, the viewer is confronted with questions about the nature of freedom and love. This film was screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival. … More
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