Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (2021)
Director: Hamaguchi Ryusuke [濱口竜介]
As with the rest of his oeuvre, duplication and mirroring of female characters once again informs Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s latest work, Guzen to sozo. It would not be out of place to make a literary analogy and, if one were to regard his two previous films (Happy Hour and Asako I & II) as novels, this new work could be described as a collection of short stories. The film’s recurring rhythm amplifies this effect. The three episodes, which each revolve around a woman, are in turn divided into three movements, like a piece of music. They tell stories of an unexpected love triangle, a failed seduction trap, and an encounter that results from a misunderstanding. The fragmentation serves to emphasize rather than undermine the exquisitely organic storytelling and mise en scène. Although most of the action takes place in a single space and involves just two actors, not once does it feel like filmed theatre. The secret lies not only in the writing, but also in the notion of a more complex temporality in each episode that flirts with science fiction in the final instalment. The moments we witness are crystallized into touching universal destinies marked by choices, regrets, deception and coincidences. They are the film’s true protagonists.
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