Eclipse Series 28 Review: The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara – I Hate But Love

loveWelcome to another entry of our feature “Eclipse Series Reviews”.  Every first Thursday of every month we will take a film from the Criterion Collection’s Eclipse Series and give you our two cents worth on it.  What is The Eclipse Series? It’s “a selection of lost, forgotten or overshadowed classics.” Why have this feature every first Thursday of each month?  Well, why not?!  So, without further ado, on with the review of I Hate But Love from the Eclipse Series 28: The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara.

two-stars12This is an odd film. First and foremost it’s a… comedy? …romance? …melodrama? …road trip? First and foremost it’s an odd film.

The term “identity crisis” comes to mind when trying to describe just what it is I watched. For the first 45 minutes I could have sworn this was a romantic comedy. A little known factoid for those who don’t know me personally, second only to melodramas, romantic comedies are my least favorite genre. With that being said, I was on board quite early with this romcom. I have no qualms in appreciating a script that starts off as strong as this one does. Here are two fully realized characters with a believable chemistry who also have a penchant for engaging in clever banter. What’s not to like? And then, just as I started to settle in to what I believe was going to be a film on the exploration – or examination, if you will – of a relationship, the rug gets pulled out from beneath, and I fall into a catacomb of scattered genre randomness.

What the fuck happened?! One moment (“moment” here meaning 44 minutes) I’m enjoying a simple plot in where two workaholics – manager and client – try to develop a personal romance whilst retaining their professional relationship. That alone is an intriguing enough premise to easily fill up the film’s running time of 106 minutes. But as soon as client, Daisaku, the sexually frustrated media celebrity, played by Yûjirô Ishihara hits the road, this potentially great romance awkwardly morphs into an imbalanced melodramatic road movie, leaving me wanting to hit the road as well. I mean that in the literal sense. I wanted to hit the road as hard as I could – with my forehead. I would have done anything to rattle the overheating cogs turning in my head as I tried to make sense of the nonsensicalness that was transpiring before me.

i hate but love 1The film’s highlight (yes, there is a highlight) takes place during a scene in Daisaku’s apartment between him and his manager/girlfriend, Noriko (Ruriko Asaoka). Due to heavy rain Daisaku is unable to make a scheduled appearance at a baseball game. This unexpected delay in the always hectic schedule gives them the perfect opportunity to take a break and enjoy some much needed downtime.

Oh, how I wished the movie from this point on was going to be just the two of them in this apartment conversing, arguing, laughing. I would have loved to see these two in a confined setting exploring the intimacies of their unique relationship for the rest of the film’s running time. A relationship so unique that the two of them decided over 730 days ago (yes, she literally counts the days by writing a number on his wall everyday) that in order to keep their romance fresh they wouldn’t kiss or make love with each other. Talk about blue balls?

Naturally, frustrations start to run high, and right as these two are about to explode in a passionate – and somewhat rough – steamy bedroom scene Noriko has a change of heart. Unable to take this rejection calmly, the sexually depraved Daisaku hightails it out of there and makes for the closest pier to contemplate suicide.

This is the turning point of the film as well as the first of two melodramatic scenes in where the prospect of suicide is seriously considered. It is also at this pier, outside of the apartment and in the rain, that this movie loses its footing and begins to reveal its proneness for awkwardly, and unnecessarily, changing genres.

What follows is an hour of screen time dedicated to one of the most asinine subplots that I have ever had the displeasure of watching. Trust me, it’s not even worth explaining. If, for whatever reason, you have made a conscious choice to see this film, or happen to be with someone who is watching it, please, do yourself a favor and shut it off at the 44 minute mark. You’ll be glad you did. A more apt title would have been, “I Hate (the last hour) But Love (the first 44 minutes)”.

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Categories: Features, Reviews

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  1. Eclipse Series 28 Review: The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara – Black Sun | Filmbalaya.com - July 6, 2013

    […] found in Kurahara’s previous two films from this Eclipse collection (The Warped Ones and I Hate But Love) appear here as well. And while his other films all excelled in the score department none can hold […]

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