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Shoujyo: An Adolescent

  • Film

Time Out says

Veteran character actor Eiji Okuda made his directing debut with this perverse Lolita-esque tale based on Mikihiko Renjo's short story "Shoujyo," in which a deeply troubled teen (Ozawa) surrenders to an all-consuming passion for a lazy, corrupt small-town cop (Okuda) old enough to be her father.

Officer Tomokowa ("Tomo" to his friends) spends his days working petty scams and sleeping with bored housewives, until lush-lipped, 15-year-old Yoko approaches him in the local diner where he's catching a nap and says, "Hey mister? Let's have sex." He acquiesces, naturally, but Yoko decamps while he's sleeping, and he doesn't know her real name. After turning the local red-light district upside down, he finds her applying makeup to a corpse. She's learning the trade from her grandfather, who also happens to be the master tattooist who decorated Tomo's back with a huge image of a one-winged phoenix; the woman who once broke Tomo's heart reneged on her promise to get a complementary tattoo. That the woman was Yoko's drunken, slutty mother is only one of a tangle of bizarre and vaguely distasteful complications woven through this warped fable about love's creepier aspects. Though it appears to suggest that the cure for modern-day alienation and anomie lies in embracing traditional Japanese culture, the film's raison d'tre is its series of long, fetishized sex scenes, including a sleazily disturbing flashback involving Yoko's mom that's shot in stark b&w smeared with glowing red.—Maitland McDonagh

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