EXPECTATIONS: Something rather sexy and comedic at the same time.
REVIEW: The film is another entry of the Roman Porno Reboot (out of five) and if the film is as any good as the previous entry that I saw (Sion Sono’s Anti-Porno), then I will be a happy man. Director Akihiko Shiota is famous for his low-key dramas like Moonlight Whispers and Harmful Insect to his effects-driven blockbuster Dororo, but now he makes his mark in the pinku genre with Wet Woman in the Wind. Having already won awards at various film festivals, does the Wet Woman in the Wind live up to her reputation?
Tasuku Nagaoka stars as Kosuke, a playwright who lives in the forest alone by choice, due to him being sick and tired by the company of women. One day, as he pulls his two-wheeled cart, a young woman, Shiori (gravure idol Yuki Mamiya) makes a hell of an entrance as she rides her bicycle into a river, trying to make an impression on Kosuke. She locks onto him like a snake binding onto its prey, but Kosuke is having none of it and tries to fend her off, with little success. And when you factor in Kosuke’s ex-wife, her acting troupe and the cafe owner lusting for Shiori (she works with him as a waitress), the increasingly conflicted Kosuke struggles to get out of his situation set between a rock and a hard
Compared to Sono’s entry in the Roman Porno Reboot, Anti-Porno, Shiota’s entry is a lot more traditional to the pinku genre. But thanks to a game cast and Shiota’s fine-tuned script and direction, Wet Woman in the Wind is a stellar entry. The film is basically a screwball comedy where the sex is the physical comedy and the performers deliver it in spades.
Yuki Mamiya is endearingly spirited as Shiori, as she attempts to call the shots in the depraved game she sets up on Kosuke. Her energy and comedic chops are fantastic to watch; like in a scene where Kosuke directs Shiori to display a range of emotions, which eventually leads the two to involve a wooden staff that gave the scene palpable sexual tension. Tasuku Nagaoka is funny as the increasingly befuddled playwright, Kosuke. His reactions to the antics around him are spot-on and he has a nice chemistry with Mamiya. The rest of the cast are all incredibly game for the story and it certainly adds to the fun.
Director Shiota has not only made a great pinku film, but he also makes fun of tropes with the romance genre. The trope of a soul-searching, sensitive artist is turned into a parody as it is revealed that the character of Kosuke only became that way was because he wanted to be away from women. And in a further reveal, the contrast of who he is compared to who he was is only made even more amusing. The trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is even ripped to shreds as Shiori is far from being a pixie, nor being anyone’s dream girl, but she is definitely manic.
Even sexual politics, including male fantasies, are turned on its head with pleasingly pointed effect, although it might understandably turn off some viewers. In a scene where a character confesses her first sexual experience, she says that her P.E teacher forced himself on her but what makes it stand out is Kosuke’s obliviousness to the story (he clearly does the same actions earlier in the film) and how it reflects the hypocrisy of where gender stands.
Even if you don’t agree with the commentary, there are many comedic moments in the film throughout. Even with all the smut and prurience, there’s plenty of wit and intelligence involved. There’s a hilarious scene involving Kosuke seeing Shiori sleep with another man, but rather than getting angry, he not only moves past it with stride, but he offers the two a drink, resulting with an awkwardly funny conversation between the three.
Even the storytelling gets in on the comedy, as the film goes demure for the majority of the run-time as new characters settle in and are hastily given character arcs and are settled in the funniest ways a pinku film knows how: with vigorous sex. The third act of the film is almost wall-to-wall sex and Shiota’s direction makes it easy to be swept up by its energy, its arousal as well as its ridiculousness. Certain jokes early in the film are reversed (and foreshadowed) towards the final act, resulting with great payoffs and even throwaway jokes and lines are delivered well. The quirky, jazzy score by Shunsuke Kida certainly accentuates the humour and the tone of the film.
As for the flaws of the film, there aren’t really any, to be honest. Unless if you aren’t familiar with the pinku genre, it is possible that one may think that the film is quite silly and there isn’t really that much of a plot as well as the fact that the commentary of the sexual politics will irk some people.
But overall, Wet Woman in the Wind is a hugely enjoyable entry in the Roman Porno Reboot with committed performances, a witty script and assured direction from Shiota. Alongside Sion Sono’s Anti-Porno, I really hope the other three films by Hideo Nakata, Isao Yukisada and Kazuya Shiraishi are up to par.
Incredibly game performances (especially from Yuki Mamiya)
A very funny and witty script
Shiota’s storytelling chops and direction
A wall-to-wall sex romp of a final act
Some of its sexual politics may turn people off
The story is quite ridiculous
Not much of a plot
Cast: Yuki Mamiya, Tasuku Nagaoka, Ryushin Tei, Michiko Suzuki, Hitomi Nakatani, Takahiro Kato
Director: Akihiko Shiota
Screenwriters: Akihiko Shiota