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1 review, 4 user ratings

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by Chris Parry

"A road movie that ends up exactly where it started."
4 stars

Those who delighted at the screen presence of Omori Nao in last year's Ichi The Killer will be happy to see Ichi back in front of the camera in this very different film about love, sex, and... throwing up.

Rei (Terashima Shinobu) is the kind of woman you never see. Oh, she's there alright, sneaking off home with a bottle of gin and another bottle of wine, dining on crackers and bringing them up again when she's done, but you never see her. She's anonymous. She's a face in the crowd. She's a wreck on the inside, but on the outside she projects the same thing you and I do - normality and silence.

Until she spies a bleached blonde truck driver in gumboots, Okabe (Nao), entering her field of vision. She's struck by him for a moment, and he notices her noticing him just enough to decide to brush his hand along her backside as he passes. With the connection duly made, all that is left is for the two of them to hook up, go traveling the countryside in Okabe's truck, and have plenty of non-comittal sex.

Now, if you're thinking the film's title is a prelude to lots of sex toy play, you're way off the mark. No, there's a distinct absence of plastic and batteries in Vibrator - rather, the title refers to the cellphone over Rei's heart that vibrates as Okabe walks into her life.

That's it. There's no other mention of vibrators within. So don't get any funny ideas.

Directed by Hiroki Ryuichi, who has films such as The Barber's Sadness, Tokyo Trash Baby and I am an S+M Writer in his background, Vibrator is definitely not short on flair. The action frequently cuts to narration, intertitles, flashbacks and camera tricks to pull off a little quickstep or two to keep you occupied, and that's a good thing as the story itself tends to drag in places.

Okabe claims to have had a wife, kid, stalker, career as a pimp, and he's seemingly about a half second away from claiming he invented Cheez Whiz when Rei starts to let her inner self out and throw the occasional wedge in the works.

It's kind of bizarre to consider that a film largely shot inside the cab of a truck was shot on 35mm in this day and age. Even moreso when so many films at this Vancouver Film Festival take the cheaper option with films that would clearly benefit from higher production values. But one area where Vibrator has them all beat is in the performances of the two people at its core. Nao and Shinobu give this thing their all from start to finish. Which doesn't mean they crank out the James Dean hysterics - it means they are the people they portray - warts and all, psychoses and neuroses intact.

Vibrator is definitely a film that seeks to showcase the acting talents of the two people that tell its story. Thankfully, the producers could not have picked two more talented actors to pull it off.

These two characters don't really do a lot other than explore each other's past, and even then there seems to be an element of open dishonesty about the memories shared.

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originally posted: 09/23/03 17:54:22
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/06/07 Lee Wen David Good moody blues movies 1 stars
11/21/06 Michael good gory and has a story 5 stars
4/26/04 stenobabe a long trip, just OK 3 stars
1/25/04 saenjo looks simple,i can make it.......only 2 characters..and a truck 4 stars
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  N/A (NR)



Directed by
  Hiroki Ryuichi

Written by
  Arai Haruhiko

  Terashima Shinobu
  Omori Nao
  Taguchi Tomoro

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