Magazine article Screen International

My Man

Magazine article Screen International

My Man

Article excerpt

Dir: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri. Japan. 2014. 128mins

A disturbing drama, wonderfully performed and featuring some mesmerisingly beautiful moments, Kazuyoshi Kumakiri's film - an award winner at the recent Moscow International Film Festival and which was a centrepiece of the New York Asian Film Festival - is a gently odd and disquieting tale of two lost souls bound together by their need for love and family.

Fumi Nikaids (whose Why Don't You Play In Hell? premiered at Venice last year) is quite astounding as the tormented but manipulative Hana, and she is perfect in the transition from spectacled schoolgirl to elegant woman.

My Man (Watashi no otoko), based on Kazuki Sakuraba's controversial best-seller, is driven by striking lead performances by Tadanobu Asano and - most especially - Fumi Nikaido, and while it may shock some audiences with its depictions of sexual control it is one of the most powerful Japanese dramas in recent years.

The harsh and unrelenting opening scenes are set in the aftermath the 1993 tsunami in Okushiri. Ten year-old Hana (grim faced and clutching onto a bottle of water) is found by 26 year-old Jungo (Asano), a distant relative, who decides to take her in and look after her - and create a 'family' - once he finds all of her direct relatives are dead.

A few years later they are living together in Hokkaido, the northernmost part of the Japanese archipelago, where Jungo makes a living cooking for coast guards onboard ship and teenage Hana (Nikaido) it at the local school. Jungo has a sexual relationship with local woman Komachi (Aoba Kawai), daughter of his old friend Oshio (veteran actor Tatsuya Fuji, from In The Realm Of The Senses), but Hana dislikes her and the two are each jealous of the other's relationship with Jungo.

Jungo's homecoming from work becomes increasingly vital to Hana, and the film slowly and sensuously reveals they have an profoud sexual relationship (there is a beautiful 'dream' scene as they make love with blood dripping onto them) with their notion of 'family' somewhat more intense than may be approved of. …

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