Otoko no Isshou / A Man’s Life / 娚の一生
Ryuichi Horoki’s pumping out films fast and furiously. There’s Kabukicho Love Hotel, an enjoyable, though slight, sitcom. And then there’s Otoko no Isshou, an adaptation from popular manga-maker Keiko Nishi’s comic of the same name. In this story, Tsugumi (Nana Eikura), decides to live in her late grandmother’s countryside place. The place is a perfect set piece, perfectly appointed washitsu, a natural dye workshop, natsukashi to perfection. She finds a taciturn oyaji philosophy professor with a ridiculous moustache, Jun (Etsushi Toyokawa), living there. He made a deal with ol’ grandma to have a poetry shack available to him. He’s a chain-smoking asshole, ostensibly with a heart of gold, just waiting for Tsugumi to unearth it. Problem is, after endless passive aggressive thrusts and parries, a sentimental and absurd sequence with an abandoned child… and some toe-sucking – plus a falsely heroic ending, the film follows a clichéd (and macho-minded) trajectory that only confirms what we always thought of Horoki. He’s never transcended his pinku porno past, was lucky with Vibrator and his films aren’t worth watching.
Originally published in EL Magazine, February 2015.