Director: Ryuichi Hiroki
Run time: 95 minutes
Hello Kitty appearance: None
Vibrator is the most recent full-length film by legendary pinku film director Ryuichi Hiroki, who is probably most well-known for his 2000 release I Am An S&M Writer. With Vibrator, and many of his other recent works, he finds himself moving farther away from the softcore exploitation of the 80’s and 90’s, and moving closer to a more easily accessible, dramatic style of cinema.
As the film opens we are introduced to Rei, a 31 year old freelance writer who is apparently a little schizophrenic, as an inner monolog plagues her in the voice of her mother. Rei is looking for German red wine in a gas station, dressed up warmly with a fluffy coat, and a long scarf partially obscuring her face. A lone trucker, Takatoshi, enters the gas station, interrupting Rei’s fit of mania, and she is automatically calmed by his presence. Needless to say, she follows him outside, and enters his truck.
That opening scene is a beautiful one, with the bight colors of Japanese food snacks being accentuated by the light snowfall seen out the windows of the store. The rest of the film too, is beautiful, with interesting cinematography that can only be obtained through years, and years of film creation and study. Just because it looks posh, however, doesn’t mean that the style is over learned, as it has a natural air to it, that doesn’t detract from the story. Continuing with that naturalness, the acting is very smooth, and well delivered, almost with the feeling of improvisation, which again, doesn’t detract, but rather adds to the story. Noa Omori, who plays the part of the isolated Takatoshi, really studied up on the trucker ethics and lexicon, as he pulls off the part with ease, and without slips.
As for the story itself, it could be said that this is the Japanese version of the recent "two-misunderstood-souls-seeking-love-by-accident" tale that everyone seems to be latching on to, with movies done in America by the name of Lost In Translation, and Garden State, and the supreme Thai version Last Life In The Universe. Also this is a road epic, with most of the action happening on the road, inside a vehicle, so similarities can be drawn to the controversial Brown Bunny, and even Easy Rider. Also, Hiroki does stay true to his erotic background, and sexuality does play a part in Vibrator, all though no real vibrators play any active role in the film.
While all of the aforementioned films are mostly excellent, and what I would assume to be true to life, they usually have a negative effect on me, often creating a depressed mood after viewing. If these stories are true, or assumed to be realistic portrayals of incidents created, then I, for the most part, have been completely left out. I think this may be true for many people; I don’t believe there is one among us who wouldn’t want to play the leading role in these accidental love stories. And to those who by chance have, I shoot my envy in your direction.
Vibrator had a brief festival tour in 2004, with it’s most notable showing at the Toronto International Film Festival. There seemed to be a polarization of reviews regarding this film, however, I think it’s safe to say that those unafraid of steadfast films would not mind a viewing of Vibrator.