Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams
There really are a good many things in the movie to enjoy. For instance, the director proves himself to be skilled at delineating the troubled lives of his protagonists. The viewer is certainly given a chance to see their hardships, how Rika is distrusted because of her past and exploited because of her physical charms, how the sister of one of her coworkers has turned to drug use after having been viciously raped, how the owner of the bar is threatened, manipulated, and cheated by the yakuza boss who wants her to sell out to him, how that same man agrees to Rika's offer to sleep with him in exchange for forgiving a debt the bar owner owes him, how he then reneges on the deal after having satisfied himself with the girl, and so on. Such tragic events are not the only ones depicted in the movie, however. Yamaguchi also shows his characters' hopes and passions, such as how Rika meets a man who grew up in the same orphanage she did and whom she comes to love (giving herself to him on a beach after having romped through the waves with him in her white bikini), how the bar owner forgives the man she once and still loves, even though he murdered her father, and how a transsexual employee at the bar longs to meet a man just as he sees the women doing. Actually, there are a good many appealing, even touching scenes in Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams. The director reveals how the heroines bond with one another, how they earn their keep, how they try to protect one another from those who would exploit them, and how they are willing to fight when they have no other way to save themselves. This willingness, I might add, leads to the film's wonderful concluding battle between its heroines and the yakuza who have been mistreating them throughout the narrative.
This sequence, in which the protagonists invade the gangsters' lair while wielding swords, is genuinely exciting. It is not, moreover, the only time the film is thrilling. At other points, the murder of the bar owner's father by her lover is shown in a flashback, Rika is depicted engaging in fights with a girl gang working with the yakuza, and those same women are shown chasing the drug addicted sister of Rika's coworker through the streets after she runs off with their drugs.
What is more, Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams is appealing to look at. While most of the movie presents the viewer with conventionally though skillfully shot images, these are punctuated by moments of strange, almost ethereal beauty. Having revealed a harsh world of squalid bars and grimy alleys, the director will suddenly transform this landscape into something that could only exist in dreams or works of art. In one scene, for instance, he uses psychedelic lighting to show a group of women dancing in a club. In another scene, he has the owner of the bar where Rika works walking across a bridge holding an umbrella to protect her from the rain to meet the man she loves but who killed her father. In yet a third, Yamaguchi presents a weird, drug-fueled, pseudo-tantric, New Age orgy. The juxtaposition of such sequences with those that are realistically shot consistently works well. The harshness of the characters' reality is emphasized and the narrative is given a strange poignancy.
Lastly, I should say that Ms Oshida makes a particularly engaging heroine. I will admit that she lacks the intensity possessed by some of the other actresses working in the same genre of films, but she does have such an attractive, bright, and innocent face that the viewer cannot help but sympathize with her. The director, happily, has made good use of his lead's assets. Rika is not some embodiment of wrath or some ferocious killer. Instead, she is a cheery, simple, friendly girl who retains her native honesty, kindness, and optimism in spite of being caught up in a nasty environment that forces her to do some genuinely unpleasant things.
Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams is a fun film. It is exciting, affecting, and nicely realized.
Review by Keith Allen
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