The Millennial Rapture / Sennen no yuraku / 千年の愉楽
Koji Wakamatsu was on a late career roll when it came to an abrupt end last October in a fatal car accident. He had just has festival premiere his final film, The Millennial Rapture. It’s flawed with some spectacularly bad scene chewing – by Sousuke Takaoka in particular – and somewhat facile and sexist notions about sexuality – perhaps from the source material itself, a 1982 book by Kenji Nakagami, or Wakamatsu own legacy of 1960s pinku films. However, there’s enough interesting stuff – great sound design, nutty period anachronisms, shots from Ozu’s workbook (from Wakamatsu, no less!) and a delicate and nuanced performance by Wakamatsu stalwart, Shinobu Terajima. She plays Oryu, midwife in a small seaside village. Without children of her own, she becomes mother figure to a couple of the Nakamura boys – lothario, Hanzo (Kengo Kora) and junkie/thief Miyoshi (Takaoka) – a Zola-esqe cursed brood. They both come to bad ends. In the final act Tatsuo (Sometani Shota), Miyoshi’s cousin appears for a purging romp in the hay with Oryu. And of course, she dies.
Originally published in EL Magazine, March 2013.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, the actor Sousuke Takaoka was misidentified as Tanroh Ishida. Apologies for the mistake.