|Toppuresu 2008 Japan Topless|
Topless is refreshing and all that. Its themes of love and fear and politics and sadness are universal. Some of its plot points are a little diversitiste though, like the young girl who comes to Tokyo with an anti-lesbian chip on her shoulder to look for her mother who abandoned her several years ago to be with a lesbian lover, meets the film's protagonist who helps her, she comes to recognize that lesbians can be good people too. OK. Characters learn from other characters all the time in movies.
The film might appear a little fluffy when you stand back from it, but the journey through it is filled with a number of poignant moments. One is the film's only sex scene, a non-explicit one between the film's central lesbian character and her male roommate. She's lost her true love to a man, is full of turmoil and wants to see what sex with a man is like. The scene is done very well and handled delicately.
My take on the title and the poster depicting two young women about to engage in a passionate kiss is this: the opening moments of the film are a little warm. The two women, as depicted on the poster, are engaged in some very passionate kissing and roaming of hands. And then pop! The top, the attitude many viewers stereotypically enter with, and desire from, a film about lesbians—two chicks going at it will be hot—comes off. The scene makes an abrupt change in tone and direction. All of a sudden the film is about people with personalities and it never looks back. Yes, it keeps saying "my desire to love and be loved as a lesbian is just like yours (as a straight person) except it's a little complicated by all this societal buildup of crud." But that's the point, isn't it?
My biggest takeaway from the film is Mina Shimizu. She's one of those actresses like Noriko Eguchi, except she's very upbeat and not moody and darkish like Eguchi, who owns the screen and everyone else in it every time she appears. I predict big things ahead for her.
Summary: The ever-lively and upbeat Natsuko tries to mend a broken heart by carrying on with a string of short-lived affairs after her break-up with Tomomi. But when Tomomi announces her plans to marry - a man - Natsuko becomes inconsolable. While all this is taking place, Natsuko's straight male roommate is grappling with his own feelings for her, and a young high school girl comes to Tokyo searching for the mother that long ago left her for a female lover. Each character - queer, straight, male, female, young, old, and in-between - struggles to make peace with him/herself as all their lives overlap. This story captures the power of young love, and the web of the city.