Judge Joel Pearce lives next door to a nice old lady who wears lots of flannel. He likes it that way.
Some fantasies should never be fulfilled.
It's hard to be a critic when it comes to certain types of films. After all, this is a low-budget Japanese blue film, and I don't think it's meant to be taken too seriously. So, for those of you who want to get this over quickly without all that critical nonsense: yes, there are boobies and no, Man, Woman, and the Wall is not a very good film. Oddly, however, the film has aspirations for greatness, which I'll talk about for anyone who's interested.
Plotwise, Man, Woman, and the Wall isn't all that special. Ryo (Keita Ohno) moves into a new apartment and is fascinated to discover how thin the walls are. This fascination quicky turns to obsession when he learns he has a sexy nextdoor neighbour named Satsuki (Aoi Sola, Love Twisted). He sets up some microphones, goes through her garbage, and frequently masturbates, imagining her and the room next door. Ryo's fantasies get more complicated when he befriends her and realizes that she is in a potentially dangerous relationship with Yuta (Hiroto Kato), a guy even more disgusting than he is.
Like the two apartments in the film, Man, Woman, and the Wall has two very different sides. On one side, it really is just an exploitative soft skin flick, an opportunity for horny single men to get off looking at Aoi Sola. At the same time, it wants to be a moralistic exploration of voyeurism, asking the question of whether Ryo is any less of a jerk than Yuta is, and ultimately whether he deserves someone as nice as Satsuki. These two concepts don't gel very well, because hardened (no pun intended) viewers that just want the skin will be annoyed at how long they have to wait for the next peek, and everyone else just starts feeling dirty and guilty partway through.
In terms of an erotic opportunity, Man, Woman, and the Wall will probably alienate most of its viewership. Satsuki is the only girl in the film, and she only gets naked a few times. Don't get me wrong, she's an attractive woman, but this film has a lot of talking for a skin flick. Most of the dialogue (and blocking) doesn't seem scripted, either, so many of the sequences are painful to get through. I don't want to be crude, but if you're just interested in the film to see hot naked asian chicks, you can find much more efficient ways to do it.
If you think Man, Woman, and the Wall looks like an interesting film, you will also be disappointed. There are a few interesting concepts to be found here, but they're pretty flimsy. It's kinda cool to see the difference between Ryo's fantasy about the apartment and the reality he discovers when he finally goes next door. Ryo also doesn't realize that he's just about as creepy as Yuta. After all, he goes through her garbage and collects the girl's toenail clippings. This is a skin flick, though, and so there are no consequences for what Ryo does. In the end, we're not supposed to feel guilty for the voyeuristic pleasure we share with Ryo, which means half of the film means absolutely nothing.
Again, I realize that this much criticism into Man, Woman, and the Wall is pointless. Technically, however, I have some major issues with the disc. For one thing, it's presented in letterboxed widescreen, which should have been abolished five years ago. It's ugly, too, whether you're watching it on a widescreen television or not. The sound is flat and lifeless, which ends up being a real wasted opportunity. After all, this is a film about voyeurism, and an immersing sound mix would have added a lot to the film. This lifeless stereo transfer just makes everything sound cheap, kind of like Satsuke's love. Oddly enough, there's actually a production featurette, but it didn't raise my opinions about the film any.
If you're willing to wade through tedious dialogue, bad acting, and
hypocritical moralizing to get a peek at Aoi Sola's naked body, then you might
as well go for it. For everyone else, a Google image search will do just fine.
Man, Woman, and the Wall is guilty of wasting my time.
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