Tokyo Film Festival, Japan Cuts
Sairi Ito, Reiko Kataoka, Aimi Satsukawa, Yuri Tsunematsu
Koji Fujii, Eiji Uchida
Third Window Films
On the fourth floor of an anonymous building, the lives of female escorts intersect as they wait for calls from their customers. Kano (Sairi Ito from LOVE & OTHER CULTS, ASAKO I & II and THE NAKED DIRECTOR) has just joined the group. Quickly disillusioned, she nonetheless sticks around as an employee, managing bookings, cleaning up, and bearing witness to the lives of her coworkers. An eclectic group of women gravitate around the place, their lives “yet to be titled”, yet full of unspoken dreams, desires, heartbreaks and rivalries – all repressed in the face of the everyday misogyny inherent to the trade, and to Japanese society.
Kana Yamada’s LIFE: UNTITLED – adapted from her own stage play – is a remarkable, independent debut, starring an impressive cast of young actors such as Yuri Tsunematsu (BEFORE WE VANISH), Aimi Satsukawa (HIMEANOLE), Kokoro Morita (ICE CREAM AND THE SOUND OF RAINDROPS) alongside veterans such as Reiko Kataoka (HUSH!) and Denden (COLD FISH). At once raw, tragic and lightly comedic, the film paints a bleak portrait of the female condition via a series of discretely interconnected episodes; a (mostly) closed-room drama detailing the workings of a community usually sensationalized, here laid bare in all its normalcy. Following in the storied legacy of the Japanese brothel film – be it Kenji Mizoguchi’s STREET OF SHAME or Suzuki’s GATE OF FLESH – Yamada smartly updates the genre for a new generation of viewers, and from a fresh female perspective, providing a frank, uncompromising look into the current status of sex work, women’s lives, and precarious labour in contemporary Japan. – Ariel Esteban Cayer
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