Bad Poetry Tokyo (2017) by Anshul Chauhan

An impressive portrait of the deconstruction of a woman in a world dominated by men

Who would of thought that a director born in India and finished schooling in military academy, would eventually become a director and shoot a Japanese indie film that seems to have captured the essence of the country's cinema and its people in his feature debut? Unlikely as it may seem so, Anshul Chauhan seems to have accomplished just that.

Bad Poetry Tokyo is screening at Osaka Asian Film Festival, that will be on March 9th to 18th.

 

The film starts with a rather intense intro before it calms down and introduces us to Jun Fujita, a 30-year-old woman who majored in English at Tokyo University and she is an aspiring actress. This however, is just the top of her life's iceberg, since she actually works as a hostess in a shady club, a line of work that has her having sex with a number of clients. Her life is difficult, despite the presence of Taka, her boyfriend who also works in the club as bartender, but she remains optimistic, saves most of the money she is paid, and is really close on landing an acting part that will change her life. Unfortunately, her boyfriend betrays her, the job in the club goes completely wrong, and a physically and emotionally traumatized Jun finds herself back in her village in Nagano, where she has left five years ago, not being able to withstand her family's situation. Once again though, she has to face some terrible situations despite the fact that an old boyfriend, Yuki, is there to support her.

Anshul Chauhan directs and pens an intense film that highlights a number of topics with socking realism, stripped of any kind of beautification. The world of escorts is the first one, with the presentation being filled with violence, orders the defy even the natural needs of the women involved, and a hopelessness that eventually comes hitting at Jun's door in the cruelest way. The second is abuse, and particularly towards women, with Jun being presented as a strong woman who finds herself powerless in the midst of the men around her, which include Taka, her boss in the hostess club, and her father.

This is actually the third topic, regarding the role of women in a world which is definitely dominated by men. In this setting, Jun finds herself stripped of any kind of dignity, hope, and eventually purpose, despite some very minor moments of peace and quiet. Eventually violence seems like the only "solution", but again, Chauhan makes no effort to present it as something that brings salvation or catharsis, but simply as a last resort for a woman that the violence she has suffered cannot be contained anymore, and inevitably externalizes.

Chauhan makes a point of deconstructing his main character both psychologically and physically, with Jun appearing gorgeous, purposeful and keeping it quite well together in the beginning, only to have all the aforementioned aspects completely demoslished as the story progresses. This concept is probably the most impressive in the film, with Shuna Iijima (an actress trained in London in various genres of theatre acting and performances) giving an outstanding performance as a woman who finds her situation becoming worse and worse despite all her efforts. This deconstruction benefits the most by her acting, with her anchoring the film in the most impressive way, in a rather dramatic fashion, stripped though, by almost any kind of hyperbole. The award she received for Best Actress from the Osaka Asian Film Festival is well justified.

Orson Mochizuki as Taka is quite convincing is the cunning boyfriend, while Takashi Kawaguchi highlights his country-pumpkin, simplistic nature with gusto.

Max Golomidov's cinematography moves along the same, brutally realistic lines that do not shy away neither form sex nor violence, with his work highlighting the story, as much as the differences between the urban and the rural environment, in the best way. Anshul Chauhan's own editing allows the story to progress in a nice pace, through a combination of art-house and indie aesthetics that allows the audience not to realize at all (apart maybe from the ending) the fact that the film stretches for almost 2 hours.

"Bad Poetry Tokyo" is a great feature debut as much as an impressive sample of Japanese indie cinema, by a director who shows much potential.


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Asian Film Vault: Bad Poetry Tokyo (2017) by Anshul Chauhan
Bad Poetry Tokyo (2017) by Anshul Chauhan
An impressive portrait of the deconstruction of a woman in a world dominated by men
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