a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Schoolgirl Complex / スクールガール コンプレックス

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s_130712_SGC_leaf_B5_omote12In its opening scenes Yuichi Onuma quickly dispatches the soft-core pervy David Hamilton-esque images by Yuki Aoyama that ostensibly inspired Schoolgirl Complex. He then concentrates on the more interesting story of young love in an all-girls’ school. The story’s pretty simple. Girl meets girl. Girl crush ensues. There’s another girl crushin’ too. And there’s a big emotional resolution. But there’s a certain sensitivity and non-judgmentalness in the way Onuma handles his fine cast of young actresses. Aoi Morikawa as Minami plays the heroine walking a fine line of nerdiness, innocence and knowingness. She’s the one who get infatuated with Chiyuki (Mugi Kadowaki), whose brooding sexual knowingness (even though she really doesn’t understand its motivations) is palpable. And then there’s Maya Kondo as the third girl, who comes out during her school club’s reading of Osamu Dazai book, Schoolgirl, in front of parents and in earshot of most of the student body. Things don’t get much better than this. Onuma, one of Japan’s most unsung directors, pulls off coming of age and coming out delicately and brilliantly.

Originally published in EL Magazine, September 2013.

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