Cruel Story of Youth
Time Out saysOshima's second feature offers a potent statement of moral and political disillusionment wrapped up within a familiar 'youth gone wild' shocker. Virtually ignoring the student protests over the signing of the US-Japan Security Treaty, the teenage lives here revolve around the twin poles of sex and money, as a naive middle-class girl falls for a dubious boyfriend content to use her as bait in extorting cash from middle-aged lechers. The couple's youthful lack of scruples is set against the failure of their older siblings' generation to bring meaningful change to the defeated nation, with Oshima's decentred compositions and edgy location work underlining the sense of a society adrift. Unsympathetic characters render the central narrative somewhat academic, but this is still a significant moment in the take-up of European cinema's New Wave freedoms in Japan.