by Sawyer J. Lahr
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This Japanese queer film plays with the thrill of a smoldering scandal. Its sinister macabre music strikes a heavy chord at tense moments. Voice-over narration deepens the characters who are not allowed much freedom of expression in the strict setting of a private high school where a young teacher Mr. Aoi (Yoshikazu Kotani) is taunted by the affection of an effeminate teenage male prostitute, Sora, (Atsumi Kanno) hired on a whim to console him after breaking up with his partner.
Sympathy is invoked for Mr. Aoi and his inner turmoil as controversial feelings develop in him for the young prostitute who becomes a student where he is a science teacher.
While the two men play tag with each others emotions and skirt blackmail, Sora’s bookworm roommate, Ichiyu (Yuuki Kawakubo) grows ever more obsessively lustful for him and takes drastic measures when he uncovers the secret affections that make Sora reject him.
The typical school clique-dynamics are heightened when the school jock, Riku, his childhood lover and protector, gets jealous of Sora’s lavish attention from Ichiyu. Riku corrals his teenage mob front to punish Sora for Ichiyu’s desperate escape from a cruel world.
The forbidden love between Mr. Aoi and Sora blossoms despite the apparent consequences. Sora at first appears vindictive and sly because of Aoi’s rejection, but Sora sooner reveals himself to be well-intentioned.
Mr. Aoi’s resistance to Sora’s advances fails to dissuade Sora from reaching out to him for emotional support as the Sora tries to reconcile with his broken family and his lonely orphaned existence.
Sawyer J. Lahr Sawyer J. Lahr is a film critic living in Chicago.
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