Where do I even begin. I've been thinking about this movie the past hour since I watched it. If you've been reading my blog, I absolutely love dark comedies and Dreams for Sale is a pretty good one. Abe Sadao and Matsu Takako play a couple Kanya and Satako who run a small izakaya. Tragedy happens and the izakaya burns down. Kanya turns into a drunk and Satako is working at a ramen shop.
At this point I'm thinking why is Matsu Takako playing another devoted wife ala Villon's wife? Just to see her finally explode on yet another useless husband? Kanya one night runs into a former customer who happens to be the mistress of a guy who just passed away. Sharing their sorrows, Kanya somehow ends up with the mistress' parting money.
Satako quickly figures things out and we quickly realise that she knows Kanya better than she knows herself. Satako realises that Kanya has a gift for seducing ladies by selling his story and dreams and sets him up with potential victims. Yes, Dreams for Sale is am Abe Sadao as a gigolo movie!
What follows are the couple trying to achieve their dream of owning their own restaurant again by taking advantage of the dreams of women wanting to get married and using Kanya's dedication to his dream to extract money. The husband and wife marriage rip off scam is a hoot but it becomes a movie more about the women that Kanya rips off.
The writer/director does an excellent job with making the heavy lifter character interesting but I just find the Kanya and Satako bits taking a back seat for the second half. Some of their dialogue is just too straightforward and it should be about using the various victims to express the stages in their relationship.
I can see why the writer wanted this to be more than just Kanya and Satako. She wanted it to be a movie about people who would do anything for their dreams to the point of not recognising right from wrong like the scene where the couple are commenting on the news about a couple who burned their kid. That was a great piece of dark comedy.
The writer wanted this to be about people who are quick to believe lies just so they can achieve their dreams of getting married. Dreams for Sale is about people who want to latch onto dreams of others because they want something to believe in. Not just Satako or Kanya's victims but also Kanya with the weight lifter.
However, wanting to explore the bigger picture or send a more direct message to the audience, the pacing of the story suffers. I can't fault the director for wanting Dreams for Sale to be more than a caper movie but I wanted more Abe Sadao and Matsu Takako scenes. It took me a while but I finally figured out the meaning of the finale scene of the movie writing this review.
Acting wise, Dreams for Sale is godlike. Abe Sadao is good but Matsu Takako rules this movie. She's got the Natsukawa Yui ability to express anger, sadness and disgust in the same look. As a piece of entertainment, Dreams for Sale is lacking is pacing but its not lame and boring like your typical pretentious arty movie. Its got great ideas and sometimes does it too clumsily but there are moments of beauty as well. A must watch only if you like dark comedies or would like to see Matsu Takako masturbate.