Yay, first live movie review here! ^^ Ever since I read this Tokyo Wrestling piece, I've been interested in seeing this movie. (Even though I was wary about that "modern youth" description. To me, it usually means, "This will be a boring 'message' story that talks down to you and doesn't capture your perspective in the slightest.")
Topless was...okay.... (See the TW article for the director's reason for choosing "Topless" as a title. It's surprisingly innocent.)
Natsuko is a university student renting an apartment in Tokyo with her roommate Koji, who is in love with her. She learns that her old girlfriend from high school, who she still loves (and who loves her back, even if she denies it), Tomomi, is getting married. Natsuko also runs into Kana, a high school student who traveled to Tokyo to search for her mom, who left her 12 years ago to live with her female lover.
The acting was good- especially Shimizu Mina as Natsuko, Sakamoto So as Koji, and Ōmasa Aya as Kana, but I didn't care much for the story. It's the sort of movie that I could see being screened at a college class on queer studies to spark discussion, but it isn't something that I would sit down to re-watch for leisurely entertainment.
Topless might portray self-identified lesbians in Japan in a way rarely found in media (at all, esp in live movies), but it unintentionally makes the odds of living a happy, fulfilled life as a lesbian look pretty freaking slim. (With the exception of Kana's briefly-seen mother towards the end.) It's frustrating because that wasn't the intention of this movie- it's almost hilarious how dreary and angst-ridden this story is (although it does make stabs at humor) when it's supposed to be inspirational. For example: the women in the lesbian circle at Natsuko's university are all humorless and pinchy-faced, and the circle starts dissolving by the end. What the hell was the point of including the circle in the movie? In the end, Tomomi winds up unwillingly married, with a kid, and Natsuko slouches away to write down their sad story as a novel. There was a funny part in that final scene, though, when Tomomi told her daughter that Natsuko was her "special friend." (Special, eh....
Every character's plot thread is resolved by the end, although Koji and Kana's final outcomes are described via Natsuko's voice-over narration instead of being shown. This made the movie feel like a bit of a rush job at the end. Kana's story also didn't feel very well-integrated with the other two (Tomomi and Koji's), although it was probably the most original. The ultimate feeling left by the movie was bittersweet- albeit more bitter than sweet as a whole.
Next review will be more positive....