Body Temperature

Body Temperature


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Takaomi Ogata produces and directs his own screenplay to deliver a surreal, occasionally disquieting vignette of isolation and frustrated human connections. For maximum effect, watch Body Temperature with no further prior knowledge.

Rintaro (Chavetaro Ishizaki) is an awkward social loner who lives with and gently obsesses over the love of his life, Ibuki. The inescapable spoiler is that Ibuki is his life-size sex doll. Rintaro makes her drinks, takes her for walks in a wheelchair, chats and has sex with her and even holds birthday parties in her honour. The first half of the short 72 minutes slowly sets out, in uncomfortably intimate detail, just how deeply Ibuki is embedded in Rintaro’s life. We hardly see him notice let alone interact with anyone else.

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When he then, by chance, spots a real woman, Rinko (Rin Sakuragi), who looks just like Ibuki, he is compelled to seek her out at the escort agency where she works. In a subtle reversal the near-mute Rintaro is almost doll-like himself, but against the apparent odds she is drawn to him. They edge towards the beginnings of a relationship with some charm, in spite of Rintaro’s unbalanced, unnerving behaviour. However, when Rinko finds Ibuki he’s torn between his only meaningful link to the world and the silicon-skinned anchor that has at least kept him in it.

This is a low-budget two-hander indie that takes its time to create and dwell in its protagonist’s psychological space. There is far less humour than Lars And The Real Girl and I failed to see the comedy in Rintaro’s more violent and tragic actions, which led to giggles from some in the screening that I attended. There is no horror such as in, say, Love Object, but Body Temperature is a disturbing watch at times. Takaomi Ogata pronounces this with long, simple and unflinching takes that draw you into Rintaro’s predicament, despite your reservations. Up close, his subtly focused camera pores over Ibuki and Rinko with as much attention as Rintaro.

The very closeness of his relationship with Ibuki expresses an awkward gap of alienation between the sexes. More than once, Rintaro acts like a parentless, fumbling and posing adolescent trying to find a role in the world. Meanwhile Rinko would like attention for who she is and not how she looks or is paid to act. In Ibuki we see the ultimate objectification and fetishistic control of women, a disenchanted extension of Rinko’s job as an escort.

Both leads give committed performances that help the weird set up seem both more credible and bizarre. Ogata’s conceit is to have Ibuki played by Rin Sakuragi as well, up until Rinko chances upon her. Her watershed moment of discovery refocuses much of Rintaro’s world for us, questioning the extent to which his fantasies and distorted interpretation of that world have been playing out for us. It works quite well - and might have been better without knowing the sex doll premise beforehand.

Reviewed on: 05 Oct 2011
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A social loner finds himself torn between a bizarre old love and something new.
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Director: Takaomi Ogata

Writer: Takaomi Ogata

Starring: Chavetaro Ishizaki, Rin Sakuragi

Year: 2011

Runtime: 72 minutes

Country: Japan


Raindance 2011

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If you like this, try:

Lars And The Real Girl