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Juan Carlos Ortuño,
Juan Carlos Torres,
This film is the director's first feature. Homosexuality has always existed of course in all societies, Japan not being an exception, but I have read that this was one of the first films to deal with it in a matter of fact way. Granted a main protagonist who is in college but works as a rent boy every night is not you typical coming of age gay story. Nor does Hashiguchi beat about the bush. The very first scene sees the boy Tatsuro in a hotel room with middle-aged trick. Not does the boy act contrite or feel ashamed. As he says in the film when asked, the work does not disgust him. The actor who plays him- Yoshihiko Hakamada- is tall, with a aloof, steely demeanour. As the interviews make clear, he was cast after a lengthy audition, and many had commented then that both him, and the director Hashiguchi (then a very youthful 31) looked like brothers. He is superb. The film also details his relationship with a female classmate and a younger hustler to whom he unwittingly becomes a protector. (Masashi Endo who plays the latter looks like a non-professional actor, and his scenes are a bit awkward). Although Hashiguchi has dealt with homosexuality as central themes in later films, the subject matter is not so upfront and explicit as here. (HUSH his breakout film, has only one brief cuddle between the gay couple in the entire film). I guess as the mainstream beckons and the budgets get bigger, your films have to appeal to a wider audience to make some return.. Hashiguchi to his credit has found a middle way in later films without being a wash out (think of the misfires and Hollywood projects of Gus Van Sant as compared to the poetry of his first film Mala Noche for an example). However on the DVD I have (released by Water Bearer films) there is an interview with Hashiguchi who in fact says that on it's release the film (English translation- SLIGHT FEVER IN A 20-YR. OLD) did pretty well in revenues in Japan, especially among the younger audiences.
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