”You’re nobody till somebody loves you” is the well known song that, among others, accompanies the visit to one of Japan’s 37.000 love hotels, the one in Osaka, Angelo Hotel. This song underlines the tone of a film that works with many characters, chosen from a representative point of view. There is the couple, Mr. And Mrs. Sakamoto, who – in their 40’es – come to give their sex life a revival. There is the pensioner couple, who come to dance in one of the many play rooms offered by the hotel. The single young woman who meets the married man for his secret affair. The gay couple. The old man who does not have sex any longer but comes to have a calm moment, some pornography and to write a letter to his smiling neighbour. And the fashion designer to be, who brings her suitcase for the s & m sessions she performs…
It’s all very respectfully conveyed, no tabloid, it is nice to look at, it’s a light film that has been given a dreamerish touch in colours and editing, in and out of the corridors to the rooms. Of course you go to the bed of some of the customers but you never feel like a naughty peeper. The casted characters are natural in front of the
camera – except for the sequence with the gay couple that has strong sense of set-up and arrangement in dialogue and action – and the whole business around the love hotel is described well: the surveillance room, the way food and equipment is brought to the rooms, the ones working there, especially the manager from whom I would have loved more.
Love hotels are a threatened business. Way into the film this theme is introduced and Angelo Hotel is to be closed, at least for some time if I get it right. The conservative government is apparently cleaning up ”dirty business” but the way the film introduces the hotel, it is difficult to see what should be ”dirty” at that place. 2.8 mio. people are said to visit love hotels every day, and I can only love (sorry!) Mr. and Mrs. Sakamoto and their way of being together, playing games as if they were part of a Bunuel-film, the train conductor game, the doctor game, their fine talk about their relationship now and then, and it feels natural that we are invited to their home, as we are to the garden of Mr. Yamada, 71 years old, close to the neighbour, his secret love with the wonderful smile.
The film had its Northern American premiere at HotDocs, it runs now at Biografilm in Bologna.
UK, France, Japan, 2013, 75 mins.