Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vibrator (2003)

Reviewed by Shu Zin

Wow! What an exhilarating little gem, Ryuichi Hiroki’s VIBRATOR is! I loved this sensitive, perfectly paced film - which has absolutely nothing to do with a vibrator - just a heads up! The story is about a troubled, but oddly spontaneous, young free-lance writer, who decides to hook up with a truck driver who catches her eye at a convenience store, just as he heads out on a long haul. This is a road story that held me entranced and responsive from the first scene through the last notes of the credits. Astonishingly realistic and subtle, with no apologies, the story develops as these two intelligent, eccentric characters get to know and trust each other.

It is breathtakingly observant, sensual as can be, kindly in its sensibility, and funny, too. All this said, you might be surprised to hear that it moved me to real tears more than once. The production is wonderful, with great, well-observed scenes along the road, a leisurely camera and beautiful composition, and the acting and direction are absolutely first-rate. Shinobu Terajima as the adventuresome writer is astounding and compelling, even though she is no raving beauty; her acting and persona are hypnotic.

The chemistry between her character and that of Nao Omori (the truck driver) is wonderful beyond words; as soon as I buy this DVD, I’m going to check out other films made by Terajima, and by Ryuichi Hiroki, the director. This is the best film I’ve seen in ages. Highly recommended. Postscript: Ryuichi Hiroki also directed TOKYO TRASH BABY, which was quirky, engrossing and richly original, and I AM AN S&M WRITER, also engaging, and very funny. I’d recommend them both and, if you are like me, you might want to see all three of these at the same time, so you can wrap your mind around his style and vision through total immersion. He spent his early years making “pinku” films, by the way, and I think he is one of the most interesting Japanese directors today.

Reviewed by Shu Zin