a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Donzumari benki / どんずまり便器

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Director Haruhi Oguri has been making a small splash in the indie film world with strikingly odd post-feminist shorts, turning expectations and stereotypes on their heads with a stunning visual storytelling style. Her debut feature, Donzumari Benki treads similar ground with decidedly mixed results. Its major challenge is fore fronting a character full of trauma, but with few redeeming qualities. Beguiling actress Nahana (Heaven’s Story) plays Narumi, a teenager whose psychosexual oddities and impulsively violent behavior sends her to prison. Released, she returns to the old neighborhood as a nihilistic, bullying and opportunistic 20 something. Moving into the family house with her brother and his fiancée, her life unravels. And she isn’t satisfied until she brings every one down with her. It all comes to head with the drama her quasi-incestuous relationship with her younger brother Kei (Kuniaki Kamamura). As a study of pathology, Oguri reaches deep into the well, bringing up powerful images and situations that seer the imagination. It’s not a perfect film but Oguri shows that she’s a director to keep on one’s radar.

Originally published in EL Magazine, April 2012.

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Written by Nicholas Vroman

April 2, 2012 at 11:14 am

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