*** NON-SPOILER QUICK TAKE ***
Gushonure hitozuma kyÃ´shi – Seifuku de idaite” aka “Despite All That” is an earlier “pink” film from director Shinji IMAOKAâ€™s (Uncle’s Paradise). At the core you can tell this is a Imaoka film as it displays his knack for cutting black humor (there are some really funny moments in it) and his very direct way of exploring relationships. In Despite we have a couple that have grown apart with growing inimical behavior that threatens to undermine everything. They have reached that perilous relationship crossroad where two might feel they are on a highway in a car that is slowly creaking forward, out of gas and this in fact just might be as good as it will ever be. Which is to say the point of a relationship where all the sparks have died and both parties internally start to wonder, “what else is there? is this how the rest of my life will be with chirping crickets outside the most exciting part of my day?”
Imaoka cleverly plays off this premise in only ways that he alone could pull off. He balances an extremely tough juggling act between delivering the required sex and nudity, providing fruitful bushels his roaring black humor and delivering several moments of searing drama. Instead of using the outrageous elements he used so well in Paradise, here he instead offers several touching human moments of longing and love. These human moments just like the outrageous moments did in Paradise really help transcend this movie well above the run of the mill.
The couple starts off trying to rekindle sparks by pushing their boundaries by opening up to their inner perversions. Once this is unleashed it instead has the opposite effect and spirals everything out of control and puts their relationship completely on the brink of failure. Ultimately Imaoka shows that no amount of perversion or opening of our fantasy selfs will save a relationship that can’t even get love right. If your not loving each other right, then nothing else is going to work. In the end its not the dark recesses of their eroticism that saves them but their dramatic turn to try and love again first… and then turn out the lights and get kinky.
Imaoka continues to shape a solid filmography that hopefully will start getting more deserved attention and word of mouth. The implicit directness and quirks he realizes onscreen of the human mind and spirit continue to dazzle well beyond what one might think the confines of making a “pink film” might allow.
Austin audiences will be able to catch Shinji IMAOKAâ€™s “Uncle’s Paradise” at this years Fantastic Fest (September 20-27).