Cerisaye's Review

This could easily be called My Obscure Object of Desire…

Set during the time of the Shogun in Kyoto in 1865, the film is supposed to be about homosexuality amongst the Samurai.  The action, mostly fighting with sticks (or were they swords?), takes place largely in the training room.  Two youths are taken on by the Samurai school for training.  One of them (Kano) is a pretty boy who’s soon the source of jealousy and intrigue in the ranks.  Kano seems to welcome the attention, though he obviously doesn’t know how to handle the intricacies of his entanglements.

I didn't like the movie at all.  In fact it bored me so much I fell asleep and had to start over.  I didn't know what was going on most of the time.  I couldn't understand the characters or their motivations.  I had to go to reviews to get a plot synopsis so I could outline it here for you.

The film looks beautiful.  The boy who causes all the trouble for the Samurai certainly looked the part, though his acting skills aren’t so impressive -or was he deliberately wooden?. They sit around with nothing else to do but gossip and look for conspiracies.  They seem to get worked up about nothing.  Yet presumably there’s passion somewhere for the boy’s presence to be so incendiary.

Homosexuality seems to be accepted by the Samurai, as in any enclosed all-male society, so what’s the big deal?  I didn’t see anything to violate the Samurai code.  Surely this sort of thing must go on all the time, so why don’t they have some other way of defusing the situation?  I had plenty of questions and few answers. 

It’s slow-moving, stilted and formal.  I suppose that reflects Japanese culture, but it demands a lot of the viewer.  They deliver lines rather than talk.  The array of Japanese names is confusing.  I just couldn’t connect to any of it.

If you like Japanese culture and history I suppose you’d get something out of the film, otherwise I wouldn’t bother.