Midaranaeseijyo Eji(?) (Japan 1996)

Rating: ***

The title of this film got cut off, so I don't know the complete title. There also wasn't any corresponding English title, so I guess I'm out of luck.

Uh... This was not at all what I was expecting. I thought I was supposed to be watching "Beast City" (1995) but instead this turned out to be a twisted erotic thriller - and a pretty good one at that. Maria is a meek and unassuming girl who works as a janitor in a big office building, but at night she dresses up and seduces men in an aggressively kinky and almost violent manner. Again, without subtitles I was completely lost as to what was going on and the motivations of the main character, but eventually a back story is developed through a series of terrifying flashbacks. Apparently, Maria and her taxi driver boyfriend had been victims of random violence, leaving him crippled and her viciously raped while he looked helplessly on. Since then, her emotionally tormented psyche has been trying to deal with the issue by playing S&M games with random guys she picks up in bars. The old boyfriend comes back into the picture and tries to get back together with Maria, but she'll have nothing to do with him. Then, things really start getting confusing, as she kind of makes up with him and gives him a listening device that allows him to hear Maria getting it on with her "clients." I won't even pretend to understand this. Then, inexplicably, she becomes victimized again by some guy who breaks into her apartment, binds and gags her in the shower, takes Polaroid pictures of her, and leaves. Huh? Things start coming back together when Maria runs into a guy who resembles the initial rapist, and with her slipping sanity she plots to torture and kill him. The old boyfriend also recognizes the guy and rushes to her place to stop her from going through with it, since we find out that she killed the original rapist in another flashback. He gets there just in time, and it seems that Maria is going to be okay afterall. The couple gets back together for a somewhat happy ending, but what happened to the poor bastard who was lying on the floor, bound, gagged, and bleeding? Hmm... Anyway, as erotic thrillers go, this was arguably one of the best I've ever seen, even though I couldn't figure out what was going on most of the time (maybe that just added to the already tense atmosphere). The film is well made and artfully directed, and the sex scenes are orchestrated very nicely and are extremely erotic. The main actress is amazing. She's extremely talented, very cute, and VERY sexy. Wow. The film revolves around her presence, and the camera knows it. Even though it's a genre that I typically despise, I have to say I was very impressed.