Nagisa Oshima recently passed away, and after seeing how well regarded he was by the film community at large, I checked the book to see that he had one film make the list: Ai no Corrida, or In the Realm of the Senses. Now, this one needs some explanation and framing before we (or rather, you) delve into it: the Book has an appendix that lists all the films in the book by genre, complete with overlap. Of all the genres listed in this appendix, there is one in particular that only has a single film listed under it: Adult. That film is Ai no Corrida. It is listed as such for very good reasons, so this one warrants a huge disclaimer; if you get turned off in any way by sexual themes and acts in films outside of outright porn, this film will be your antimatter.
The film, surprisingly enough, deals with a completely true story, that of the now infamous Japanese woman known as Sada Abe. If that name doesn’t ring a bell for you, that’s alright; it didn’t for me either. Looking into it, though, I knew would pretty much spoil the film for me, so if you do intend to see this one and don’t want to know what happens, don’t Google or Wikipedia that name until after the film. Now, the film itself. To be honest, the film only just scrapes by being classified as a porno, and only for a few scant reasons. For one, the film isn’t so exploitative, instead treating its material as an act of genuine romance; bull-headed romance, at times, but romance nonetheless. Also, there is far more focus on the story than on the sex acts themselves; each one serves a purpose to the overall story, even if the story is mostly these two getting it on, before things inevitably turn sour, to put it mildly. However, this is all just my opinion; others almost definitely will see this as just another porn flick, but I saw too much artistry in the details to dismiss it entirely with such a label.
Now, with all that said in defense of the film, can I still give it a general recommendation? No, I can’t; the film is honestly far too erotic in nature for me to give it that. Despite what I’ve said, I know a few people that will definitely see this as just a very pretty and stylized pornographic movie, and I don’t blame them; really, the only reason I was able to see it as more than such is because I had committed myself before I started to see it as more than such, so I began looking for the very things that would justify my reasoning. It’s an admittedly skewed outlook, I’ll admit, but it got me through the film where I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. I’ve been very obviously hesitant to tackle this one, what with the ominous looming of the “Adult” classification hovering over me, but I knew I’d have to sooner or later, and with the recent passing of the director, I knew that time had come. Now that I’ve seen it, even with the mental-fu I had to execute on myself to do so, I’m glad I won’t have to see it again. There is really very little outside the erotic side of things that this offers, even to a diehard film lover, so as long as you know what you’re getting, or rather know what not to expect, you should be able to get through this all right.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10