Of Love & Law
Time Out says
This humane doc is a beautiful torch song for challenging intolerance and championing those in need.
‘I wish he had talked to us before he killed himself. But sometimes people die because they can’t talk about it.’ These tearful words are spoken by lawyer Masafumi Yoshida (‘Fumi’) about a gay law student he once advised. Fumi and Kazuyuki Minami (‘Kazu’) are a married couple, and the first openly gay lawyers to run a law firm in Japan. The dual nature of their partnership lends the title to Hikaru Toda’s touching doc about two gentle souls advocating for minority rights in Osaka Prefecture.
The duo have a special interest in representing people punished for non-conformity. There’s the artist Rokudenashiko whose imaginative array of vagina artworks led to her arrest on obscenity charges, the teacher who lost her job after not standing for the national anthem and two women appealing their ‘unregistered’ status.
These case studies provide the doc with a loose framework, although Toda also makes space for Fumi and Kazu’s own stories, showing them both separately and together. They adopt a minor left homeless when a social care home closes. Detail by detail, a picture emerges of a couple who have professionalised their shared instinct to care for the needy.
Toda has created a rich, idiosyncratic and amusing character study, highlighting the significance of the work in the foreground by sketching a damning background of a social system that proves lethal to those who are vulnerable.