Shinjuku Swan / 新宿スワン
Shion Sono’s filmmaking career has gone from the audience-abusing nihilism of the two final films of his “Hate Trilogy” to the soul-searching of his post 3.11 films and the more recent fuck-it-all fun of his last two efforts. He’s now hit a new nadir with a completely phoned-in sellout, Shinjuku Swan. The story follows the adventures of Tatsuhiko Shiratori (Gou Ayano), a young hustler, new to the dirty ol’ city, who finds his inner pimp and becomes a Kabukicho tout, accosting girls on the street in order to lure them into the slavery of Tokyo’s sex biz. As he rises in the underworld (he really doesn’t get too far) he gets beat up A LOT. And always comes back bouncing for more – glutton for punishment that he is. There’s the usual gang intrigue that leads to internecine warfare, the unbelievable love interest, endlessly clichéd underworld characters and plenny o’ violence. Shinjuku Swan is an ugly duck that celebrates the usual vapidity, misogyny and lack of original ideas the plague contemporary Japanese film.
Originally published in EL Magazine, June 2015