Monday, December 03, 2012

JFF 2012: Dreams for Sale

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.


Anonymous said...

I would actually have to disagree! First thing most people would have felt is the length.The director/scriptwriter wasn't able to use the scenes efficiently which resulted in the movie feeling an hr too long.
Matsu was good but the movie wasn't good my opinion. First half was ok, but the later half was rather dull to me. I do appreciate the weight lifter character and the idea that Matsu was threatened by her entry into their plan (the scene at the dinner was interesting n great!), however, I cannot believe they could keep doing whatever they were doing when the weight lifter gave up her dream for Abe... how could he move onto Kimura after that??

The thing I hated the most though, was the empty monologue. If there's something that they don't exel in, its generic monologues about life. And to have such a lengthy one was rather boring. I wish it were more relatable...real I guess.

Ultimately it could have been an honest and enjoyable experience, but it become a movie were many scenes were redundant and did nothing to help the film. I think the first half was well thought out, (just because there was a reason and use to the scenes used whether it was to create a feeling of the couple's relationship/ or people's inclination to cling onto Abe because of his dream), but the second half must've been rushed/ overlooked by the editors because there was no continuity/ meaning to engage the audience and deliver the film's theme artfully.

Akiramike said...

I don't disagree with your points.

Abe moves onto Kimura because he cannot stop. Its like a drug for him, an escape. A dream that he is selling but he which he cannot have.

I agree about the second half. As clumsy as the writing was, I could see what the writer/director was going for and thus while disappointed by lack of execution cannot fault her for lack of trying.

Anonymous said...

I guess I know what you mean (about the writer's endeavours...maybe the director/editor was unable to deliver.

But I just don't think the acting was god-like.. Takako really impressed me here though.

I was happy for Abe for getting this role, felt that it was a good opportunity for him...but he really didn't carry out his role as convincingly as he should have...there are some actors out there that can just deliver it in a way where you seriously FORGET that they are portraying the character, because they ARE the character.

Anyway, I wish they (Japanese writers) would quit the generic monologues already!That takako monologue made as much sense as the drama Taisetsuna koto did...which is not much at all. Its pretentiousness and lack of impact (or sense for that matter) frustrated the hell out of me!! If possible, please make a note if there's a movie with an annoying monologue like this one in the future. I need to be warned!!