Tuesday, 23 November 2010


After a bizarre encounter visiting their respective fathers in prison, teenagers Kinichi and Akiko fall into a troubled relationship that leads them deeper than they bargained for. Having won money on a bet at the races, the pair confide each other’s money woes, learning that their priorities lie on rescuing their fathers. Kinichi is determined to make bail of 100,000 yen for his father, who has been imprisoned for election fraud, and realises that he will have to call upon his estranged mother for help. Akiko decides she must pay back the 100,000 yen of public funds that her father embezzled, but her job as an artist’s model fails to fetch enough to cover her mother’s hospital bills, let alone her father’s release.

For those familiar with the work of Yasuzo Masumura, Kisses might feel a particularly tame debut film, but that’s not to say it lacks his flair. Though not exactly the twisted duo of Nagisa Ôshima’s Cruel Story of Youth, Kinichi and Akiko’s forced independence seems representative of the post-war period, but Masumura allows his characters to enjoy the freedom they are also given by their circumstances. A sequence at the beach allows the young couple to experience the simple joys of being a teenager, before the streets of town remind them of their harsh reality. There are some superb shots too, particularly as an untethered camera follows the couple as they motorcycle to the beach. The story might be forgettable, but it’s hard to finish Kisses unmoved.

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