Monday, June 22, 2009

2LDK (2003)

Yukihiko Tsutsumi's 2LDK is the other film created for the Duel Project (mentioned in my review of Aragami (2003)).

For those not in the know, the term "2LDK" is Japanese realtor shorthand that applies to an apartment or a living space that has two multi-purpose rooms (serving as bedrooms or entertainment areas), a dining area and a kitchen.

As per the rules of the Duel Project, it is this apartment that will serve as the battleground for two of the most unlikely warriors in Japanese filmdom.

Nozomi (Eiko Koike) and Rana (Maho Nonami) are reluctant roommates and aspiring actresses.

Nozomi and Rana are also as different as night and day, and are as compatible as oil and water. Nozomi is your typical "country rube trying to make it big" story complete with additional emotional baggage while Rana is an accomplished studio whore looking for one last shot at greatness.

As it so happens, both ladies are up for the lead role in an upcoming film entitled, "Yakuza Wives."

No, I didn't just make that up.

It also turns out that the movie role isn't the only point of contention in the lives of these two women. They also share interest in the same man and as 2LDK winds along, tensions mount and eventually transform from catty verbal exchanges to all out friggin' war.

Like with any war, it's the little things that cause things to boil over. From those unsightly hairs left in the bathroom to spilt perfume to Rana using the last of Nozomi's shampoo without telling her, every minor irritation and transgression is yet another cobblestone on the road to hell.

And what a road it is. When conflict finally breaks out, it is as disturbing to behold as it is completely fucking hilarious, with action ranging from use of chainsaws, to drowining, to electrocution and yes...

Despite all of the hatred and violence, Tsutsumi finds a way to work in a scene where Rana and Nozomi kiss one another.

That's my kind of filmmaking, folks.

I found 2LDK to be a very interesting film thanks to what appeared to be Tsutsumi's remarkably keen understanding of the human psyche. Even though the hyperbole-rich 2LDK feels more like a Brothers Grimm-style terror fable than it does a microcosm of real life, it is dripping with insight into just how warped the human soul can become.

Nozomi and Rana aren't fighting because they see the other as an implacable enemy. They're doing it because they see the other as the proverbial "mirror darkly" that displays all of the loneliness, unrequited desire, and personal failure that they both desperately try to hide behind a glossy shell of either beauty or intellectual superiority.

These ladies are not terribly unlike Eihi Shiina's character in Takashi Miike's now iconic Audition (1999), masking complete batshit insanity with a near perfect public veneer of innocence and calm.

Given that glaring similarity, I'd love to sit down and chat with Tsutsumi or Miike some time and see if these respective films were created to creatively and indirectly address some greater societal ill without directly indicting Japanese culture as a whole (much in the manner that Pulse (aka Kairo) (2001) or Spirited Away (aka Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) (2001) did), or if they did it just for the laughs and shock value.

2LDK certainly gets its point across, but its 70 minute runtime is too brief for my liking. While I don't think it's my place to tell an artist what his vision should be, I have to admit that I think that Tsutsumi was on the verge of creating a psychological thriller for the record books and I'm a little disappointed that it stopped just shy of that mark.

That being said, I hope that Tsutsumi will eventually return to this project and ponder over it a bit more, because there is certainly a lot more creative room to transform this from a haunting yet amusing short film into a dark epic that could put him on the worldwide cinematic map.

1 comment:

Matt-suzaka said...

I too consider that my kind of film making!

Just the image of the two female leads holding each other at bay with the knives is enough to cause interest to stir in my movie loving bones.

However, after seeing that clip you provided...the interest is through the roof!