Pros: Interesting conceptually. Visually appealing.
Cons: Visibly low budget. Sex was gratuitous at times.
Man, Woman and the Wall is a hard film to categorize. There were times, when watching this film, that it seemed I could be watching porn. There were only a few scenes like that...but sex was an over-riding theme throughout the film. Yet Man, Woman and the Wall remained surprisingly interesting, weird and quirky.
Ryo (Keita Ono) works for a publisher. His editor has been good to him, allowing him to afford a new apartment that has a built in bathtub (things must be tough in Japan). After moving to his new digs, Ryo realizes that the walls are paper thin, allowing him to hear through to his female neighbor, Satsuki (Aoi Sola). Ryo develops a strange fetish, hooking up listening devices to allow him to listen to her every movement. His infatuation (perversion) is so intense that he has developed his own imagination of what the bedroom looks like. He has even invented his own Satsuki (Sho Nishino) since he does not know what the real one looks like at first.
Ryo's voyeurism appears to become more aggressive and he begins stalking Satsuki. He has developed an intricate map of her schedule to assist him in determining her mode of transportation and work locations. After an exhaustive search, he finds Satsuki and engages her in conversation which eventually leads to controlled meetings and manipulated interactions. It is a strange relationship, but not as strange as the one Satsuki is engaged in with her current boyfriend Yuta (Hiroto Kato). Yuta seems to have his own penchant for voyeurism. Yuta also seems to be more than just a little off kilter. The strange combination of relationships twist and turn a while before settling on an unlikely but intriguing ending.
Director Masashi Yamamoto adapted Man, Woman and the Wall to a screenplay from an original story written by Fumihiro Yamada. Although incredibly sensual at times, the story has strong plot lines and interesting characters. The ending is unexpected but a bit strange and abrupt. The characters have some interactions that seem to me to be improbable, but I enjoyed the direction the movie took anyway.
Hiroto Kato was not the lead in this film, but he was definitely intriguing. At times his performance bordered on hammy, but he still cracked me up. His performance was odd but fun to watch. Ono walks a fine line that tips a little bit out of his favor for a male lead. That line was definitely a product of the writing and not Ono's performance. Ono does a decent job of connecting to the audience in spite of some major character flaws. His chemistry with Sola seemed genuine. Sola's character is also a bit off, although it doesn't seem like it at first. She also did a good job. The cast wasn't extraordinary, but they were solid enough that I enjoyed the film.
Although unrated, this film is well deserving of an R. The sex includes rough sex (bordering on rape), bondage, masturbation and voyeurism. The nudity and sex, at times, seemed very close to sanitized soft core porn. The language, themes and mild violence all added to a strong advisory. I would not allow a minor child to watch this film in my house.
I was surprised by Man, Woman and the Wall. I did not know anything about the film going in. When it became apparent that the sexuality of the film bordered on porn, are started second-guessing my selection. But this film has a strange suspense quality that held my interest. The structure of the plot was intricate enough to be worthy of a remake with a bit more attention given to the story and a little less skin. Not that I am opposed to skin, but to reach wider appeal, this one will need to be cleaned up a bit. Intriguing. Three stars out of five.