3 September 2019 | aghaemi
The Events Depicted In This Film Are Not A Game
In the ancient Greek fables attributed to Aesop the turtle beats the hare through ingenuity and doggedness. It is a depiction of coming from behind and winning. The metaphor, come to think of it, relates to my experience watching this film of double and triple-crosses in two ways. Firstly, there is Miwa who as the film opens is falling behind her class-mates in everything. Will she catch up with the prettier Saori? Secondly - and this one is not directly associated with the film's content - despite watching the film at the Cinemax US cinema in Inzai a week after its opening it was in a theatre with a grand total of two people. There was no one in the theatre even with Wednesdays being Ladies' Day and tickets being almost half price for women. To catch up with its titular reference word of mouth for the film must be to such an extent that it goes from playing in empty theatres to becoming a blockbuster in a week or its is game over for the Aesopian turtle. Now mind you, my experience was at a single showing at a single cinema, but how different could the attendance numbers be elsewhere? Presumably everyone was watching The Lion King in theatres 1, 2, 3, 4 and you get the picture.
The continuously overexposed film begins predictably enough. New professor walks into the classroom and immediately has two students fall head over heels and want to be taken on a date by him. One is the shorthaired, quiet and mousy Miwa. The other is the taller, long-haired Saori who wears pretty dresses. Next scene: professor and Saori are on a date. Things take a quick turn, however, where amidst turtle and hare-related music Miwa goes home and after feeding her pet turtle receives a pep talk about the desirability of finding friends and dating from her mother. Enter the leggy Koyuzu who along with her father is involved in a catalogue of dirty deeds banned in 47 prefectures, two metropolitan cities and one territory. The lives of the three girls soon intermingle and there is a flurry of twists and revelations that comes fast because the film lasts only 87 minutes, which is some thirty minutes shorter than the average Japanese film. Remember the aforementioned professor, the father and family members? Good, because they are all involved.
Aesop's Game is thick with bizarre entertainment, intrigue and style and at times even hints at deriving influence from Tarantino. A turtle falling from the sky and hitting a man on the head is the least of it. There is animation within the film, yakuza, a gun or two, reality television, more than one illicit affair, a perverse entertainment banquet and all the while it is also hurtling towards the final reveal and to boot let us throw in the name Agatha Christie in there as well. None of this is to take away from the film's originality. It is just that much has to develop in a short length of time and, one swears it is a watershed moment in the history of Japanese films, when one wonders why the film was not... longer.