Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Empire of the Passion

There can't be a lot of movie plots that hinge on the shaving of pubes. OK, maybe a adult movie with twins and a wacky Three's Company-like misunderstanding plot, but not mainstream movies.

Empire of the Passion, submitted for Japan's shot at the 1978 Academy Awards no less, does have a plot where a few thoughtless moments with a razor lead to madness and death. The movie was made by Nagisa Oshima, director of the 1976 In The Realm of the Senses. Like that movie the plot centers on an illicit liaison, but lacks the In the Realm's pervasive nudity and explicit sex. So no, you do not get to see the shaving.

In the movie, a layabout soldier seduces a rickshaw driver's wife and then declares they must kill the husband. If he saw that she was shaved, there would be no end of it. Turns out killing him leads to more trouble.

To be honest the movie is slow moving and may not appeal to everyone. The ghost of the movie is disturbing, but not really scary. The rising madness of the adulterous, murderous couple is the drama of the second act. There are some good scenes and I like how the village slowly turns on the couple as rumors and suspicions grow.

Overall, I would say that Asian horror fans looking for the roots of the modern movies would like this one. Otherwise, it is just too slow.

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