Synopsis: When Ryo, a young magazine reporter, moves into a new apartment he is greeted by the passionate sounds of his astonishingly beautiful neighbor Satsuki. Realizing the wall dividing their apartments is paper thin, the captivated journalist begins to eavesdrop on every detail of the girl next door’s life: her conversations, her bubble baths… her breathless cries. While Ryo’s fantasies escalate into something bordering on love and obsession, Satsuki becomes increasingly hysterical over the bizarre and dirty phone calls terrorizing her every night. When their lives finally converge, delusions and reality blur the unthinkable to happen.
eyelights: its winning lead. its curious premise.
eyesores: its performances. its unlikely third act. its low budget quality.
“You’re different from the Satsuki I know.”
Ryo moves into his first apartment that has a bath in it; in Tokyo, where properties come at a premium, this is moving up in the world. But he discovers that his walls are paper thin and he can hear his neighbour clearly.
At first merely curious, Ryo becomes obsessed with her, listening in whenever possible, and fantasizing about her. When he begins keeping track of her schedule, he realizes he has a problem. But he can’t stop himself.
He wants to get to know her.
Soon he discovers that Satsuki has been receiving illicit calls from a creep and is terribly shaken by it. When he realizes that this person is also monitoring her apartment, he takes it upon himself to try to help her out.
‘Kikareta onna no mirareta yoru’ is a 2006 low-budget Japanese erotic drama by Masashi Yamamoto. It stars Keita Ôno as Ryo, sexy b-movie film actress Sora Aoi as Satsuki and Hiroto Katô as Yuta, Satsuki’s boyfriend.
It’s the kind of DYI film that inspires respect if only because it was conceived and brought to fruition, even though it doesn’t fully hit its marks; it’s not especially ambitious, but it tries to make do with what it has.
And, for the most part it succeeds: propelled by a surprisingly congenial protagonist (despite his stalker-ish tendencies!), it intrigues enough to keep the viewer watching, curious to discover what will come next.
How far will Ryo take this? What is the story behind Satsuki’s creep? And what’s with Yuta, her weird boyfriend?
Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the picture is mired by some lackluster performances: though he’s enjoyable, Ôno sometimes overplays it, and neither Aoi or Katô are especially convincing. They’re okay, no more.
Thank goodness for the distraction of subtitles.
I enjoyed the fact that the picture went with such a disquieting base concept but somehow didn’t turn into something too sinister. Yes, Ryo is in the wrong and he makes poor choices. Yes, the illicit caller is disturbing.
But the friendship that develops between Ryo and Satsuki somehow manages to offset it. Though it’s contrived by the fact that Ryo tracks down her workplace and finds ways to connect with her, they have a genuine connection.
If fortune had allowed them to meet in a different way, they’d have been friends already.
However, I do take issue with the way it all unfolds, with Satsuki making the strange choice of dismissing Ryo’s violation of her privacy and even finding it somewhat endearing. It really sends the wrong message to audiences.
In fact, the whole finale stretches the boundaries not just of acceptability but also credibility. Is it likely? I think not! Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I can’t imagine anyone reacting the way Satsuki does in the end.
Further to this, it’s all staged in a way that left me incredulous: the confrontation between Ryo and Yuta is so poorly shot that it dissipates all tension – and it’s all just a contrivance for Satsuki to discover Ryo’s secret.
But the picture does have some clever touches, like the fact that Ryo initially imagines Satsuki and her boyfriend completely differently than they are in real life. And then he’s faced with their real world selves.
It’s intelligent moments like that one that make ‘Kikareta onna no mirareta yoru’ enjoyable, for all its flaws: it’s not just a straight-to-video exploitation film made by a hack; a little bit of creativity was invested in it.
And there’s also something romantic about the basic concept of two people being separated by just a wall and eventually falling in love. Too bad that it’s hampered by a really cheap production and a dark undercurrent.
I’d certainly watch a lighter, more polished version of this.
Date of viewing: January 25, 2017