Monday, September 1, 2008

2LDK (Japan 2002)

2LDK (meaning two living rooms, dining room, and a kitchen in Japan real estate terms), is an ambitious film that has only two stars, one setting, and a lot of clever, witty dialogue that spans a mere 70 minutes in length. All of these elements combine to create an incredibly fulfilling viewing experience that feels wholly unique and inspired.

Nozomi (former gravure idol Eiko Koike) and Rana (Maho Nanami) are two aspiring actresses living together in Tokyo, and both are up for the same part in a major motion picture called Yakzua Wives. Nozomi is a low-key individual who comes from the tiny Sado Island and has a background and appreciation for theater. Rana on the other hand is the complete opposite as high glitz and glamour, looks, and being a household name is her ultimate goal. The two girls are living in an incredibly nice high-rise apartment, all the while waiting anxiously for the phone call that could change one of their lives. As the night progresses, the two of them start make small talk in a cordial manner, but soon find themselves getting into arguments over matters such as using stuff that isn't yours, boys, acting skill and ambition, and so on. The arguments eventually take a turn for the physical as the two girls let loose in an all-out brawl that has the two using anything they can get their hands on to unleash damage.

For the story of 2LDK, that's it in a nutshell. It's an incredibly simple premise, shot in a raw indie style that only took director Yukihiko Tsutsumi eight days to shoot (day and night mind you). Definitely an impressive feat, but more than that, the film has a great look and feel to it all and the dialogue exchanged between the two girls, including what the girls are really thinking about one another, is really clever and often times amusing. As we go deeper into these characters, we begin to understand the flawed nature of them and how deceptive one's appearance really can be. The acting from both Eiko and Maho are really exceptional and the sheer fact that they can anchor an entire film is proof of that. Some of the arguments between Nozomi and Rana may seem petty, but I feel there's a deeper meaning to the film and in particular Japanese society. The Japanese, by most accounts, are a people who exist and thrive by subduing emotional urges (including anger), with the greater goal being to maintain the harmony within any given situation. Sure, I may be looking into things way too much, but get out of it what you will. There's definitely more being said here than just two girls acting catty towards one another. 2LDK feels like an experiment in showing how things, even if seemingly exaggerated, can get out of control when you do in fact let your emotions get the best of you.

Some of the over-the-top violence may offend and turn-off a lot of viewers, but the creativity shown in the concept of 2LDK is enough to warrant a viewing. The acting and writing can simply serve as icing on the cake. A definite must-see. (Lee)

Grade: A

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