DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
VIBRATOR (director: Ryuichi Hiroki; screenwriters: from the novel by Mari Akasaka/Haruhiko Arai; cinematographer: Kazuhiro Suzuki; editor: Ryuichi Hiroki; music: Hikaru Ishikawa; cast: Shinobu Terajima (Rei Hayakawa), Nao Omori (Takatoshi Okabe), Tomoro Taguchi (policeman); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Akira Morishige; Kino; 2003-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)

 
"It's the best erotic trucker road film I've seen."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

It's the best erotic trucker road film I've seen. It runs over the viewer's body parts like a vibrator, hitting all the right sensitive spots. Acclaimed international Japanese filmmaker, Ryuichi Hiroki ("April Bride"/"Kimi's Friend"/"It's Only Talk"), a rising star, does wonders with this bold psychological drama and resonant culture statement flick about a changing Japanese society that's so influenced by western pop culture. It features a road romance between a bulimic, boozing, self-hating psychologically disturbed 31-year-old freelance magazine reporter, Rei Hayakawa (Shinobu Terajima, stage actress in her film debut), and a loner twentysomething free-spirited freelance long-haul trucker named Takatoshi Okabe (Nao Omori). It's smartly shot with silent intertitles of Rei's voiceless voiceover, as we listen in to the voices in her head as she's driven almost insane by her inner-demons.

The male director bases it on the feminist novel by Mari Akasaka, and it's written by Haruhiko Arai.

On a snowy night in Tokyo, loner Rei goes to the local mini-market to buy a German wine and becomes attracted to a shopper with bleached yellow-haired who is dressed in yellow boots, the rugged looking trucker named Okabe. He's made a pit-stop for gas and junk food, and seems pleased when she parks with him for the night in the big truck's cab and balls him. The next morning, she asks to go with him to his next destination, a trek on the snowy roads to Niisata. The impromptu day long road trip becomes a journey of self-discovery that's cathartic emotionally and intense both sexually and psychologically.

The actors make this plotless tale into an affecting relationship pic, that is haunting and unforgettable. An unusual raw psychological film, where in the beginning of the journey the only sensation Rei feels is the vibration of the mobile phone in her pocket. But when she returns to Tokyo that night, she feels touched and relieved that, at least, for the time being, she doesn't hear those disturbing voices in her head.

A strangely uplifting spiritual pic, with frank sex scenes that bring about an awakening of one self to touch others as you would like to be touched. It's a film about the search for one self, for those who have chosen the independent road, to be their own masters, in a society where most have chosen to be part of the conventional, more secure and more paternalistic corporate network. It's also a pic about lonely people, who have a dark past and find it's so difficult to meet someone else who can touch them and make their life trip a bit more cheerful and less lonely.

REVIEWED ON 7/5/2010       GRADE: A

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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