Magazine article Variety

For Love's Sake

Magazine article Variety

For Love's Sake

Article excerpt

FILM CANNES

For Love's Sake

AITO MAKOTO

Japan

Like a taxidennist, Thkashi Milke removes the sinew and heart of the star-crossed amour between a good rich girl and a poor bad boy, only to stuff it with glossily macabre artifice, in "For Love's Sake." This adaptation of a 1973 manga that spawned the Nipponese genre of jun-ai (pure love) arguably reps the protean helmer's first full-blown romance; not surprisingly, it ends up a scornful lampoon of pulpy sentimentality as Milke upstages the genre's conventions with riotous musical nwnbers and schlocky violence. Genre and arthouse circuits will be besotted with the razzmatazz.

As children, Al Saotorne and Makoto Thiga have a fateful encounter on the ski slope of Thteshinakogen in Nagano prefecture. Eleven years later, Makoto (Satoshi Thumahuki) is seen embroiled rn a street fight in Tokyo's busy Shinjuku district. Al (Emi Thkei) recognizes him by the scar on his forehead and uses her rich parents' powerful connections to get him into her elitist high school in the hopes of reforming him.

To pay for Makoto's expenses, she nioonlights at a hostess bar, but his troublemaking soon gets him expelled and shuffled to Hanazone High, a crime-infested hellhole ruled by hard-as-nails bullies Gumko (Sakura Ando), Gonto (Thuyoshi lhara) and Yuki (Ito Ono). Ai enrolls herself into the same school to be near him, and her geeky, bespectacled devotee, Hiroshi Iwashimizu (Takumi Saitob), follows suit.

The original manga "Al to Makoto" (love and sincerity) by lkki Kajiwara and Thkuml Nagayasu has gone through several screen and TV incarnations, assuming cult status equivalent to that of "[4ove Story." Milke's interpretation stands apart from his other reworkings of 1970s children's entertainment, such as "Zebraman," "Yatterman" and "Ninja Kids," replacing the affectionate and playfifi mood in those pics with blase cynicism here.

There are dark, grotesque overtones to the ornate mise-en-scene (such as the chandeliers dangling in both Ai's opulent mansion and Makoto's dingy shack) and the hysterical song-and-dance numbers, which outdo the murderous shenanigans in Miike's other musical, "The Happiness of the Katakuris." Ai's attempts to throw herself at Makoto's feet and the subsequent punishment she inevitably brings upon herself are choreographed as gleeful slapstick. Hiroshi's love declaration, while being a hilarious caricature of the flamboyant Hideki Saijo (who played Makoto in the 1974 film version), also make him as much a grating figure of ridicule as Ai. …

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