Three Stories of Love

(Japan, 2015, 140 mins, DCP)
International Premiere
CAST Shinohara Atsushi, Narushima Toko, Ikeda Ryo, Mitsuishi Ken, Lily Franky
PROD Fukada Seigo, Ono Hitoshi, Hirata Yosuke, Aikawa Satoshi
SCR Hashiguchi Ryosuke
CAM Ueno Shogo
ED Hashiguchi Ryosuke, Ono Hitoshi
ART DIR Ataka Norifumi
MUS Akeboshi
PROD CO Shochiku Broadcasting / Arc Films


VIFF has screened pretty much everything Hashiguchi Ryosuke has made over the years, and his work has likely given more pleasure to our audiences than any other Japanese director’s. This could well be his crowning achievement: three interwoven tales of individuals learning to cope when love slips through their fingers. It features several well-known character actors (Mitsuishi Ken, Lily Franky, et al.) but its three leads are all relative unknowns, coached in acting by the director before the start of production. The results are spectacular. This is unequivocally the best Japanese film of the year.

The protagonists are a bereaved bridge-repairman, an unhappy housewife with creative ambitions and an elite gay lawyer. Their stories are largely separate, but briefly intersect. Nobody will fail to recognize and empathize with the ups and downs in their lives; Hashiguchi says he wanted to give voice to “a sense of loss, frustration and indignation felt by many”—and adds that some of the incidents and emotions are drawn from his own experience. The film is wildly funny in parts, but the overall tone is worldly and very, very wise.

Tony Rayns

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Shochiku Broadcasting Company Ltd.
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Shochiku Broadcasting Company Ltd.