Wolfe Video // 2006 // 96 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // June 16th, 2008
The manga craze has gone lesbian!
Is it just me, or have films dealing with lesbian love still haven't gotten real critical notice? In 1982, writer Robert Towne took a gamble by making his directorial debut with Personal Best, an exceptional look at two women in love while also competing for the 1980 Olympic games. That may be the closest lesbian cinema has ever gotten in terms of reaching a mainstream audience, and while it was highly acclaimed by some critics, it was largely ignored by cinema-goers.
In the 1990s, indie films concerning lesbian relationships began coming out all over the place. It started somewhat with The Incredibly True Adventures Of 2 Girls In Love, a modest but disappointing low-budget feature which, quite frankly, didn't have very likable characters. Filmmaker Jaime Babbit took a comic stab at the genre with But I'm A Cheerleader, but that one had a misplaced sense of humor. Others like Rose Troche's Go Fish and the Wachowski Brother's debut feature Bound were very good but so incredibly obscure that nobody noticed them.
Now that we live in a post-Brokeback Mountain era, I think audiences should wise up and accept those who wish to be different based on personal choice. (California has recently taken a step in the right direction.) When I got Love My Life for review, I had no idea it was about a lesbian relationship...even though it has two girls on the cover with their eyes closed about to kiss. I was pleasantly surprised; for once, we had a film that was not only sympathetic to this so-called "forbidden relationship," but also had more surprises than clichés.
Based on a Japanese manga, Love My Life places the spotlight on two college girls. Ichiko (Rei Yoshii) always has a positive outlook on life, while at the same time having a passion for writing. Her companion is Eri (Asami Imajuku), who is seriously studying to become a lawyer, despite having a rather sexist father. Ichiko's father is the complete opposite; he's gay, and has no problem with his daughter dating Eri. When Eri begins to worry about her career aspirations becoming compromised by the relationship, though, things take a sharp left turn towards a break-up -- something which Ichiko is not prepared for.
Yes, Love My Life sounds rather conventional, but it's honesty and charming performances won me over. Both of the leads feel natural, and the script doesn't allow them to become stereotypes. There are no "dominant" or "submissive" characters, which most writers of this genre dangerously overuse. I saw no difference between this story and so many familiar heterosexual romance films which have plagued our market just because they are "more acceptable."
In fact, this is probably the best movie of its kind I've seen since Andrew Fleming's Threesome, which also treated homosexual feelings with as much respect as heterosexual ones. This film is more about working out the relationship (and when one should "come out") than dealing with outside prejudices, and everything from the dialogue to the music (by rock band Noodles) works quite well. My only complaints are that there were a bit too many montages, as well as some needless supporting characters. Otherwise, Love My Life is worth seeking out.
Wolfe Video has brought this import to DVD in a nice, if small, package. The film is presented in widescreen, and the shot-on-video look has its minor flaws, but is remarkably clean. The Noodles songs sound great in the DD 2.0 stereo track, and while the film is (obviously) in Japanese, there are (obviously) English subtitles provided. Bonus features include some deleted scenes and a trailer, both of which I unfortunately wasn't able to view with the screener I received.
Verdict: Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Wolfe Video
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes