Woman With Red Hair

Woman With Red Hair


Reviewed by: Symon Parsons

The woman with red hair (Junko Miyashita) sits in the rain, eating noodles. She is picked up by a dissatisfied and thuggish construction worker, named Kozo (Audition's Renji Ishibashi), who takes her back to his apartment, where the rain thunders against the walls and junkies scream all night. They commence on a brutal and obsessive affair.

Coming from Japan's notorious Pink Film era, Woman With Red Hair can barely be considered erotic, despite numerous sex scenes, imaginatively shot to avoid the ire of censors. The affair is desperate and animalistic: "Make me scream like a pig," begs the woman.

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Running from an abusive boyfriend, she now yearns to be mistreated by Kozo, who tosses her around like a rag doll and uses her however he feels. Kozo is driven by a desire to debase the woman he loves. If he abuses her, yet still she comes back, doesn't that prove she shares his feelings? Consequently their relationship is passionate, destructive and all consuming.

A parallel story concerns a girl, who is gang-raped, but plans to elope with one of her attackers. It mirrors the central plot of the woman, utterly dehumanised, who somehow holds on to her abuser. In this way, the submissive partner gains control, but Woman With Red Hair takes a very long time to make this sinister and rather hollow point.

The film is difficult viewing. Writer/director Tatsumi Kumashiro creates a seedy world of drunks, prostitutes, junkies and rapists, permanently drenched in rain, where the only emotions are a desperate need for contact - contact of any sort. It has a deliberate, inexorable pace, but because Kumashiro does not allow for character development, goes nowhere slowly.

Due to the restrictions of Pink Film, all relationships are explored only in sexual terms. Within this genre, I'm sure Woman With Red Hair is a stunning achievement, but as an exploration of human relations, it is uninteresting, plodding and deeply unpleasant.

Reviewed on: 02 Feb 2005
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A casual pick-up leads to an abusive affair between a construction worker and a redheaded woman.
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Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro

Writer: Haruhiko Arai, based on the novel by Kenji Nakagami

Starring: Junko Miyashita, Renji Ishibashi, Ako, Moeko Ezawa, Noboru Mitani, Miyako Yamaguchi, Hatsuo Yamatani, Kai Ato

Year: 1979

Runtime: 73 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan


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