News from the Locarno Festival

Koibito-tachi wa nureta

Histoire(s) du cinéma: Special Screening

Koibito-tachi wa nureta



Tatsumi Kumashiro was struggling to make it in the film industry until the Nikkatsu studio hired him as a director for the launch, in 1971, of their now famed series of softcore erotic cinema known as “roman porno”. Kumashiro’s astute understanding of the genre’s potential made him an instant success with critics and public alike. Koibito-tachi wa nureta (Lovers are Wet), his fourth film with Nikkatsu, remains one of his most admired classics – coincidentally, his own personal favorite – and it’s not difficult to see why. It is shockingly beautiful. Modern both in its diversified filming techniques and in its approach of themes.

The story is fairly simple: a young man, Katsu, goes into hiding in the small fishing village where he grew up. There, he lends a hand as a projectionist although he spends most of his time wandering around and disrupting the town’s routine. There is a libertarian breath blowing throughout the film and Kumashiro is rebel-in-chief, meeting the criteria of roman porno while developing a reflection on the genre within the narration. Considering sex less as a transgression than a natural human urge, he invites us to see, often with humor, what voyeurism really looks like and how pathetic male frustration can be. Before reacting to its more brutal scenes, we can ponder on one of the film’s open questions. What is worse: peeking or showing?

Aurélie Godet

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