Monday, August 5, 2013

War Crimes

A Woman and War (2013) - Inoue
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There are two stories happening in this slim but pointy new Japanese film. Ohira (Jun Murakami) comes home to his wife and a young son from the frontline of Northern China after losing his right arm. It's near the end of WWII. Because all the atrocities he committed, he can't have an erection. After witnessing a gang rape in his home town full of frustrated, demoralized men and the woman's almost comatose state, Ohira finally gets hard. With the promise of rice (everyone's starving because of war rations) he lures in women into a secluded area, knocks them unconscious and have his ways. He becomes a serial rapist. Then there is a defeatist writer (Masatoshi Nagase) who is waiting for total annihilation of Japan. He shacks up with a local bar hostess/former prostitute (Noriko Eguchi). His grand idea is to make love with her until the end of the world. Because of her past and being treated like a boy toy at a young age, she can feel pleasure. The end comes. Japan surrenders. The Emperor is a human being again. Now the writer is shooting himself up with heroin to death, the woman is a prostitute again, this time for American GIs. It's only the serial rapist who can give her pleasure.

Scathingly damning in Japanese war atrocities, A Woman and War is an uneasy film that plays out like the other side of JG Ballard. The violence against women in this film is to the point and unflinching. Uneasy zoom in shots are very effective in showing fuzzy moralities of the characters. A difficult film to like.

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