Archive for November 5th, 2012

Vibrator (2003)

Rei Hayakawa is a freelance writer who lives alone, hasn’t got a boyfriend and drinks quite a lot. She also hears voices within her own head. Voices like that of her mother’s scolding, school friends’ gossip and also the voice of her true feelings left unexpressed. But the voices cause her pain: they worry her, deplete her sleep, drive her to drink and cause eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. On a cold February night in a convenience store, with the voices ever present in her head, a male customer who looks like a fisherman catches her attention. Blonde haired Takatoshi is a long haul truck driver and he notices that Rei is watching him. Paying up at the till before going back to his vehicle, Rei gets rid of whatever was in her basket and follows him out of the store into the snowy night. Takatoshi beckons her inside his vehicle where he shares his alcohol and food with her and before long their conversation has led to them having sex. The next morning Rei decides to accompany him to Niigata on a delivery and so begins a road trip between the two of them.

Despite the rather dodgy title, no female sex aid appears in this movie!! Based on a novel by Mari Akasaka, the story is about 2 lonely people that come together on one cold Winter’s night based on a need for physical closeness and acceptance. It’s a very good character driven story and the majority of the movie takes place inside Takatoshi’s truck and the only dialogue in the story is between the two leads. There are times during the movie where nothing actually happens with the viewer being shown some driving footage. The cinematography is fantastic and a particular favourite scene of mine is at a winter festival which is lit by candlelight. As the story progresses, Rei opens up about her struggles and Takatoshi shares stories about his past which may or may not be slightly exaggerated about when he was delivering drugs to the yakuza and also a pimp. He gives us the ins and out of CB radio as well. Rei gradually lets her guard down as she becomes more comfortable around Takatoshi which results in her crying, an attempted self drowning in a bath and a bit of a nervous breakdown. I’m sure a lot of men would run away from a person who has issues like hearing voices in her head and trying to drown herself but Takatoshi takes Rei for who she is and actually likes her.

The performances of the two leads is nothing short of amazing. Shinobu Terajima is excellent as the troubled and mentally unstable woman Rei with Nao Omori more than holding his own as Takatoshi. There is great chemistry between them. Watching their journey unfold was wonderful. There’s plenty of character development that takes place over the course of the movie. At the end of the movie you can see the gradual change that has happened with Rei. She has emerged from her journey with a new understanding of herself. She may not be totally cured of the voices inside her head even though they may have disappeared for a time but her attitude is different and she can be happy with the fact that she isn’t alone anymore and there is somebody out there that can accept her even with all the problems she has.

Vibrator is definitely a story that you have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy otherwise you might get bored. Check it out if you have a chance. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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