Kabukicho Love Hotel / Sayonara Kabukicho / さよなら歌舞伎町
Director Ryuichi Hiroki (Vibrator) builds a pleasant, if somewhat mawkish, La Ronde-ish edifice around a series of tales of the workers and clients of a love hotel in Kabukicho, the last bit of demi-monde in Tokyo. Most of the stories are mediated through the eyes of the hotel’s manager, Toru (Shota Sometani), whose fallen dream of working at a classy establishment haunts him – along with his foundering relationship with Saya (Atsuko Maeda), an aspiring musician. She brings a music producer to the hotel in hopes of fucking her way to a record deal, only have her indiscretion discovered by boyfriend Toru. Several other plots busy the script – one involving a Korean call girl (Lee Eun-Woo) doing her last day of business before going back home. Another with a cleaning woman (Yutaka Matsushige), trying to keep her husband hidden until the statute of limitations runs out on his murder rap. Plot developments are a little heavy handed, flitting lightly on contemporary issues. The performances are solid and sometimes funny in a sitcom-ish sort of way.
Originally published in EL Magazine, January 2015