This Saturday, I saw a double feature of Kabukicho Love Hotel and Mary Kom. I started off with Kabukicho Love Hotel, and it was not what I was expecting, to say the least.
Kabukicho Love Hotel is about a hotel in Japan that is primarily used for sex. They deal with pornography, prostitution, cheating, and it is very dangerous work. The story follows the struggles of young people dealing with situations surrounding the love hotel. However, the main problem I had with the story was it was not clear whose main story it was. There was really no protagonist guiding the plot. Yes, there were several conflict of multiple characters, but it lacked the fundamental main character who we follow the most. Instead, we were given multiple characters, which unfortunately made each of there problems jumbled, rather than focusing on one dramatic one.
Despite this discourse, one thing I throughly enjoyed about the film was the directing. The shots tended to move with the characters and get up close and personal to their faces. I feel like this brought us closer to them and feel sympathy, even though there wasn’t a main individual’s conflict driving the plot.
Another thing that was worthwhile with this type of film was that I indirectly got to learn more about another culture. Before Kabukicho Love Hotel, I had never seen a Japanese film. One thing done well was showing the setting of Japan and where they were. Never having visited Japan, it was interesting to see the type of architecture and how it was similar to New York and Hawaii simultaneously. There were also little things of Japanese customs that I picked up from the film like how they sat on the floor to eat, the huge fish market, soy sauce on tables instead of salt and pepper, little things that would be normal to a Japanese person, but different to me. I think that is a wonderful thing about the film festival, because since it’s international, one can get a new perspective on different cultures and I get to learn more.
On the downside though, I felt even with the vulgarity of the story, some of the scenes were too overtly inappropriate in my opinion. There were times when I was watching the scene and I felt uncomfortable sitting there. Even though this was a film about sex, I felt like at times it was too much for me. Along with this, when the actors weren’t having sex and they were acting through different conflicts, I felt their acting was over dramatic and unrealistic. There were times when I didn’t know if it was supposed to be serious, because of the unnecessary drama that they acted out.
Even though personally the scenes were inappropriate for my eyes, it really woke me up to reality. I’m embarrassed watching this on a screen, but this is happening globally, how do those people living it feel?
When I first finished the movie, I thought that I didn’t enjoy it at all, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I missed the point of the film in the beginning. The purpose of Kabukicho Love Hotel was not to sugarcoat the illegal sex trade occurring in Japan- it was to expose it. Now that I can see the film like that, I realize the film was quite well done and it was done in more of a documentary style rather than story, because it is reflecting how some people are unfortunately living their lives.
Overall, I personally would not watch the film again, however I am glad I viewed it once. The lessons I took away from it about the struggles people endure may make me uncomfortable, but then it brings me to reality to try to think in their shoes and how they must really feel.