BFI London Film Festival 2012 – ‘For Love’s Sake’ – Miike’s most good natured film in quite a while

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For Love’s Sake

Directed by Takashi Miike

Written by Ikki Kajiwara, Takayuki Takuma, Takumi Nagayasu

Starring Emi Takei, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Takumi Saito, Sakura Ando

Welcome to an alternate reality Tokyo of 1972,  and adolescent student Ai (Emi Takei) has fallen deeply in love with the forehead scarred bad-boy Makoto (Satoshi Tsumabuki), a violent and uncompromising young hooligan whom Ai idolises as her fairytale saviour. Makoto however couldn’t care less for her beatific affections, and when Ai’s fathers pulls some strings to enroll him into her elite private school he returns the favour by blackmailing her parents when he discovers that she is moonlighting at a local maid service bar. The infatuating incredulity deepens as Ai has her own desperate paramour, the nerdy and bespectacled Iwashimizu (Takumi Saito) who confesses his undying love for her, promising to follow Ai to the depths of hell in order to secure her fleeting affections. After Makoto is expelled for numerous violent infractions Ai follows him to the squalid   Hanazono School situated on the wrong side of the tracks,  idealistically believing in his internalised good character and potential salvation as his cool demeanour attracts the affection of two further young ladies, the mysteriously deadly Yuki and the gum chewing Gumko (Sakura Ando). The romantic triangle warps to a pentagon, and through a hilarious conflagration of keening interludes a final berserk confrontation seems certain for Makoto and his numerous juvenile duellists, all competing for either his heart or his head.

This phantasmagorical pantomime from the incredibly profligate Takashi Miike is another exercise in distorted genre mashing, with its wide ranging influences veering from the American toe-tapping of West Side Story to the deranged angles of Seijun   Susuki, a bonkers Bollywoodesque blockbuster drenched in an acidic glow, a delirious blend of American musical and European rom-com, Yakuza pic and violent ballet.

For Love’s Sake is probably Miike’s most good natured film in quite a while – if you can accept harmoniously scored fights between Makoto and fifty sailor clad young female pupils, disfiguring acid attacks and amorously scored interludes – this is more along the lines of  the twitching miasma of  The Happiness of the Katakuris than his more internationally regarded Ichi The Killer or the incriminating Audition – with a brutally choreographed punching and kicking replacing the more perfect pirouettes of less crepitating, less outré symphonies.

With a delicious, keen eyed use of the wide-screen format there are many laughs on offer, although it could do with a trim some sequences are ingeniously arranged  – Yuki’s biographical and theatrical montage for example is particularly inspired – so like much of Miikes blasted body of work when completing two or three movies a year you can skim the bulls-eye when you hurl enough arrows, For Love’s Sake being a pleasing, silver medal spearing perforation of this melodious genre.

John McEntee

The 56th BFI London Film Festival runs Oct. 10th  – 21st.  Learn more about For Love’s Sake.

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