Reviewed for Shockya.com and BigAppleReviews.net, linked to Rotten Tomatoes by Harvey Karten
Director: Kota Yoshida
Screenwriter: Kota Yoshida
With: Manami Hashimoto, Ryō Ikeda, Mukau Nakamura, Honami Satō, Tateto Serizawa, Shogen, Rina Takeda
Screening on: Critics’ link, NYC, 03/25/22
Opening: April 22, 2022
No film will ever match the fusion of food and sex as the 1963 film “Tom Jones” does, and surely “Sexual Drive”, which does not show a single body even half-naked, is no competition. Tragedies are elevated, while comedies have no problem dealing with the body, especially the mouth and nether regions. “Sexual Drive”, however, flirts with both high and low; metaphorically Kôta Yoshida, who wrote and directed the film in part about the workings of the mind, particularly the stories of a comrade in part three of this three-part series, but in any case insists that people in tailored suits and fashionable dresses do little more than conceal their most intimate desires for food and sex.
Think of Odysseus who, in classical myth, addresses the king of the Phecians after being shipwrecked on an island, asking for time to finish his dinner before telling his story: “Eat, drink!” He erases all memory of pain, commanding “Fill me!” “Sexual Drive” is about suffering people who yearn to be fulfilled and whose anxieties revolve around their sexual desires which they try to satisfy with food.
For example, in the first episode called Natto, Kiru (Tateto Serizawa), a poorly dressed man, enters the house of a guy whose wife is a nurse, called on a Sunday for a hospital emergency. Kiru is an ordinary man, confronting people with what is missing in their lives. In Natto’s case, the reluctant host allows Kiru to present his main concern to him, but somehow he can’t kick the man out. Kiru discusses the affair he is having with the man’s wife, presenting some truths that all men who have had surgery would like to forget – the most painful being the insertion of a catheter into the urethra to drain urine. Kiru calls himself a masochist. The pain excites him. And somehow observing Kiru’s pain, the nurse is also excited. By the time the nurse comes home hungry, her husband has to watch her devour a bowl of Natto with sexual pleasure, which makes the man all the more depressed about his own asexual life.
In Mapo Tofu, the second episode, Kiru reappears, this time throwing himself against a car and writhing in pain. The driver, who has panic attacks, is happy not to chase her (is anyone chasing someone in Japan?) and drives them home. During the ride, she has the panic attacks she has grown accustomed to, while her so-called therapist, Kiru, hints that sexual dissatisfaction is the cause of the tremor.
In a more surreal vein, the third chapter, Ramen with Extra Backfat, has a woman drinking alone at a bar, then heading to one of those noodle shops popular with people who want to save money and avoid embarrassment. to eat alone. A narrator speaks into the earpiece of a well-dressed man, probably an executive, directed at Momoka who is the only woman in the ramen shop and who herself is trying to drown her lack of sexual satisfaction in food and drink .
It’s a niche movie that might divide some people who like indies and low-budget oddities. One group might turn away from the provocative nature of the film, because after all it has originality, but others, like me, will be frustrated. Repeat that: frustrated. Those of us in the latter category may wonder if getting laid before watching it might change our opinion to a more positive one.
In Japanese with English subtitles.
70 minutes. © 2022 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
History – C+
Acting – B
Technical – B+
Overall – C+