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Luxurious Bone

March 18, 2012

Atmospheric slice of life film could use some trimming

Zeitaku na hone (2001)

Isao Yukisada’s fourth feature film marks a notable improvement over the silly and pretentious Love Cinema entry A Closing Day. Here Yukisada manages good characters and solid tech credits, even if the outcome is no classic.

The decidedly small scale character drama follows two young women (Kumiko Aso & Tsugumi) and a sex date (Masatoshi Nagase) who turns out to be an alright guy. What follows is a classic love triangle, however so skillfully played that most of it comes out rather fresh.

Luxurious Bone displays Yukisada’s skill to turn non-action into catchy cinema. Despite the typical dramatic premise, the film underplays most of its storyline. The majority of the film leans on atmosphere, rather than drama.

Unlike in A Closing Day, there’s certain feel of open walls that leaves characters open to at least some interpretation. It’s a tricky topic, and very much up to the viewer whether he decides to look for any “unwritten content”. A lot of time such content isn’t necessarily even intended by the filmmakers (though it makes it no less rewarding). In Luxurious Bone, if the viewer so wishes, it is possible to find enough room to breathe and think, even hang out with the characters, rather than follow a box of plastic train on the rails.

Much of this is achieved through visual images, captured on 16 mm (or very grainy 35mm) film. Grainy images of people walking in the city or sitting the park night, wind blowing through one’s hair, a character playing guitar at home, and spending free time at an apartment house roof. Light, natural and artificial, comes through very nicely. Similarly to A Closing Day, music (by Hirofumi Asamoto) is also used to a good effect to support the atmosphere.

Acting performances are also good, especially with Nagase sticking to men’s underwear this time. Tsugumi, who won a few newcomer awards for her role in Akihiko Shiota’s silly Moolight Whispers, and gave a good performance in Sono’s Noriko’s Dinner Table, goes topless a here. Exactly 10 years later she went AV.

What ultimately prevents Luxurious Bone from being entirely satisfactory is the running time. 20 minutes could’ve been lost easily – a simple mood / slice of life film without story merits to mention does not need to run 105 minutes. Still, taking a walk with Yukidada’s characters doesn’t feel like an all bad idea, even if one wishes more directors could see the beauty of an 80 minute movie.

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