With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Sunday, March 04, 2012

ACF 1367: VIBRATOR

Takatoshi (right) passes behind Rei at the convenience store
 Vibrator
Directed and edited by Hiroki Ryuichi
Starring Shinobu Terajima and Nao Ohmori
Japan, 2003, 95 minutes
When: Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 5:30 PM
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NY, NY
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues

In some films, the couple "meets cute." Such is not the case here. Rei (Shinobu Terajima) is shopping for wine in a convenience store on White Day, March 14th. In Japan, Valentine's Day is marked by females giving chocolates "usually to a male as an expression of love, courtesy or social obligation." One month later, on White Day, the male recipient is "expected to return the favor by giving gifts, usually more expensive." Rei's gaze falls upon the young, handsome, and blond haired Takatoshi (Nao Ohmori, who played the title character in Miike's Ichi the Killer, and was in Sabu's Monday and Drive, among numerous other film credits.) Though they have never met before, Takatoshi will in effect give Rei a special White Day gift.

On the road, together

Though his galoshes made her think of him as a "yummy-looking" fisherman, when she follows him out of the store, she finds that he is a truck driver. Joining him in the cab for a drink, one thing leads to another and soon the pair are off on a road trip as Takatoshi, an independent trucker, picks up and drops off various deliveries. Along the way they discuss the finer points of "haulage," delivering smack in frozen fish for yakuza gangs, and eating disorders and alcoholism. The later two being afflictions from which Rei suffers. Judging from the voices she hears in her head, she also may be a borderline schizophrenic. They also engage in various and sundry sexual escapades in the truck.

At a motel after Rei has been sick

Vibrator is a rather simple, yet compelling film. Though there is nothing particularly special about either character (Rei writes articles "for magazines and stuff" and Takatoshi is a middle-school dropout), there is something intriguing about what the two offer to and bring out in each other. I found myself genuinely concerned about them, wondering how things would play out. Would there be a "happy ending," which I considered unlikely, or a tragic one, which I dreaded. As things turned out, for me the film closed on a rather bittersweet ending that was just right. ACF Rating: 3 out of 4 stars, solidly recommended.

Vibrator is being shown as part of the Globus Film Series Love Will Tear Us Apart at Japan Society. For information about the series, including film descriptions, showtimes, and online purchasing of tickets, click here.

Also, check out fellow VCinema staffer John Berra's review of Vibrator here.

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