A doomed boxer and a haunted drug addict find themselves inadvertently caught in the crosshairs of two warring gangs, in the latest from Midnight Madness provocateur Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, Audition).
Never mind a New York minute: it's in a Shinjuku second that one risks losing one's head in First Love, and when Midnight Madness institution Takashi Miike is winding the clock, you can trust we mean that literally. The latest from the prolific provocateur gets rolling with all that's north of a yakuza's neck tumbling into the neon-drenched streets of Tokyo — an indelible image that assures us that, despite the film's starry-eyed title, this is romance in the key of Miike.
When the schemes of duplicitous punk Kase (Shota Sometani) go comically awry, doomed boxer Leo (Masataka Kubota) and haunted drug addict Monica (Sakurako Konishi) find themselves inadvertently caught in the crosshairs of two warring gangs. Over the course of an increasingly ridiculous night, a soulful meet-cute between the two innocents transpires — one injected with that signature brand of poetic pandemonium that Midnighters have grown to revere over the course of Miike's now 104 directing credits.
That this infectious pastiche coheres as well as it does is a testament to the grounded foundation laid by frequent Miike collaborator Masaru Nakamura (Dead Or Alive 2: Birds, Sukiyaki Western Django), whose script wittily weaves its hyperbolic characters towards a thoughtful expression of the concept of hatsukoi (first love). Capturing the yearning that blooms with one's first brush with romantic feeling, Miike and Nakamura cut to the heart of it and distill it down to that instant when a person resolves to live for another besides themselves — be it with fists raised, or swords drawn.
New this year! All Midnight Madness screenings at the Ryerson Theatre are 19+ events. Proof-of-age ID required for entry.