Seventeen-year-old Momoko (Kyôko Fukada) is stuck in Japan’s boonies when she should be voguing in Harajuku. This Hello-Kitty-meets-Lolita aesthete dreams of the rococo period and making frilly, rosy designs for her favorite designer, but selling fake Versace couture out of her grandmother’s house seems to suffice, if only because she’s unsure how to eek out of a living in a world by her lonesome that doesn’t stink of animal dung or resonate with people’s knee-jerk support for the inexpensive clothes sold at Jusco. Enter Ichiko (Anna Tsuchiya), a biker chick who comes for Momoko’s Versace knock-offs but stays for the friendship her gooey-gumdrop retailer has to offer. It’s a tale of opposites attracting, with every adventure—from a chance encounter between Momoko and her designer hero to a trip to Tokyo to get an outfit embroidered for Ichiko—fraying at everyone’s nerves, including the audience’s. The lunacy of these characters complement the look and hustle of the film—the hieratic, color-saturated images suit Momoko’s outlandish couture and the whiz-bang pyrotechnics are as aggressive as Ichiko’s infamous head-butts—but the story is a drag for much of its running time. It’s a pity because the film’s opener is a real kicker: Momoko zips through the countryside on a motorbike, and after smashing into an oncoming veggie truck, she flies into the air (in slow-motion, natch), with cabbages and Pachinko balls flying all around her. The story then rewinds, and in the film’s best stretch, director Tetsuya Nakashima lays out the rationale for this seemingly random, lunatic explosion of signs via a series of giddy tableaux, including the insanely hilarious first meeting between Momoko’s parents (he’s crying like a baby, she’s projectile vomiting) and a young Momoko bidding farewell to her perpetually screaming mother by taking flight into the stratosphere. Like Momoko, the film’s argot is rooted in the clouds, but when the film returns to the present, the story reveals itself to be a crashing bore. Assembled piecemeal for much of its running time, Kamikaze Girls doesn’t build up to a profound whole the way similar pomo contraptions like Kung Fu Hustle or even Torque do. In spite of its individual pleasures, the film has very little in its head.
- VIZ Pictures
- 102 min
- Tetsuya Nakashima
- Tetsuya Nakashima
- Kyôko Fukada, Anna Tsuchiya, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Ryoko Shinohara, Sadawo Abe, Yoshinori Okada, Eiko Koike, Shin Yazawa, Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, Katsuhisa Namase, Hirotaro Honda, Kirin Kiki
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