Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5Rate this
Time Out saysFor all the praise heaped upon Oshima's admittedly ambitious film about East-West relations in the microcosm of a Japanese PoW camp during World War II, it's far less satisfactory than most of his earlier work. It may go against Japanese taboos as it deals with commandant Sakamoto's obsessive love for prisoner Bowie, it may be stylishly shot, it may seem uncompromising in its depiction of the Japanese war ethic and the insistence on harakiri as a more honourable reaction to defeat than submission to imprisonment. But the web of relationships between English and Japanese is too schematic in its polarisation of characters, Oshima's handling of the narrative is not so much elliptical as awkward, and Bowie's performance is embarrassingly wooden. Add to that Sakamoto's turgid score and posing narcissism, some horrendous symbolism, and some pretty shoddy technical work (several of the pans are hurried and blurred), and you have a fair old mess.