28 February 2008 | nmegahey
Edgy, unpredictable comedy
Disillusioned by their failure to establish a business selling a new health drink in Tokyo, Daisuke (Hiroshi Yamamoto) returns back to his hometown in the country with his girlfriend Hisako (Tomoko Kotera), hoping to make use of contacts through his friends to get the product on the shelves. Apart from the problem that they have already amassed considerable debts and Daisuke's marketing strategy is impractical if not actually non-existent, there is also the fact that the drink itself smells terrible and is not particularly appetising.
Yamashita's film is a comedy, and the much of it seems to be at the expense of life out in the sticks, but there's rather more to it than that. It does have a point to make about enterprise and the lack of opportunity for young people, who are unable to compete with the commercial backing of large corporate businesses that have the market sewn-up, using their influence and money to keep competition out. The effect is to stifle creativity and enterprise, maintaining the division between rich and poor, the city and the provinces.
That may make the film sound somewhat preachy and academic, but it's far from it. Dryly funny in a droll, abstract, unpredictable and sometimes even slapstick manner, the message and the humour is principally in the characterisation. The camera's viewpoint switches between close-ups of the faces of its leads and the isolation of their environment and finds in both an expression of a situation that does indeed seem to be hopelessly beyond their means to change.