Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tokyo Trash Baby 東京ゴミ女 (Tokyo Gomi Onna, 2000)

Ryuichi Hiroki is quickly becoming an international star for his intelligently-written romances. Well, as far as I know, he hasn't written a single film (none of which I've seen), but each one delves into the specifics of urban relationships. This film is a tale of obsession and timidity that seems to accompany the experience of living single in a megalopolis. Miyuki, played by NAKAMURA Mami, is a waitress at a nondescript Tokyo café, who finds it easier to rummage through the trash of a guy she likes rather than talk to him. How she reached this point is not given, but it is certain that Miyuki lives in a world of her own. She's a very cute and quirky girl, but somewhat childlike (not altogether different from the American hipsters). As she collects the guy's trash, a musician that lives on the floor above her, she slowly begins to think that she knows him, and uses his scraps to create an idealized image of him. Writer OIKAWA Shotaro has made a very unique film on how we misunderstand the people we fall in love with, and the portrayal of Miyuki, as a girl who cannot quite fit in, hence her being alone most of the time, is very convincing. Her fixation on the guitarist eventually leads to a meeting at one of his gigs, where her ideal may not meet his reality.

Miyuki acts as a foil to her co-worker, Kyoko, played by SHIBASAKI Kou, a woman who appears slightly older and is more integrated into social norms, hence her daily boasting at work of her rampant sexual encounters. It is strange to say that this is a gem in the film world for its originality: it is a film about normal people in normal situations. No one is exceptional, talented or special. Though Miyuki is the type of girl who one would imagine as the black sheep in a traditional family, being the self-absorbed, creative one, she is presented as trying to reconnect with the world through love, and her persona is not so extraordinary as to negate her existence in a real, ordinary setting. She's the "weird girl" that you went to high school with.

This film was the first entry of six DV features in the 'Love Cinema' series, which also includes SHIOTA Akihiko's Gips, and MIIKE Takashi's Visitor Q.