The Pinkie
Also known as: Samayou Koyubi
Medium: film
Year: 2014
Writer/director: Lisa Takeba
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Keywords: fantasy, yakuza
Actor: Reon Kadena, Takashi Nishina, Ryota Ozawa, Tokitoshi Shiota, Haruka Suenaga, Kanji Tsuda, Miwako Wagatsuma, Mondo Yamagishi
Format: 65 minutes
Url: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3385490/
Website category: Japanese SF
Review date: 3 January 2023
Samayou Koyubi
That was pretty mental, with extra mental on top. It's silly and absurd, with a scumball protagonist I hated almost throughout. Frankly, even with the short running time and mad jokes, I quite often found the film a bit of a struggle.
It ends well, though, and I eventually decided that it was quite good.
Just giving a plot synopsis would make me sound like a nutcase. Ryousuke gets his little finger cut off because he slept with a yakuza's girl. This flies through the air and is found by his stalker, Momoko, who uses it to make a clone of him. She's been hopelessly in love with him since the age of five and she's had plastic surgery to give herself the perfect face for him, but she also burned down his house and she used to be famously ugly. "She was the only classmate whose knickers I didn't want to steal."
Ryousuke is a piece of shit. He does low-grade shitty things and believes that life is a cycle of betrayal. He exploits people and is always chasing women, but doesn't seem to have ever attempted commitment. On meeting his clone, he sees a loafing opportunity because he'll be able to work this alternate version of himself like a slave. When Momoko gives him something that the clone needs to keep its body okay, Ryousuke discards it.
He's so hateful that it felt implausible for anyone to be in love with him. I suppose he's handsome, but... no, sorry. Spending time with this person would be masochism. (Since I was watching this film, I counted myself in that group.)
You'll have noticed that realism isn't a priority here. (Why did the finger land in front of Momoko? How did she know it was his? Why wasn't she surprised to see it? Similarly, how does the clone immediately knows that it's a clone?) Those aren't problems, though, because the film's absurdist. A hospital buzzer still works even if you've wandered out into the streets, with the implication being that it has a really really long wire. There's a hysterical parody of Rocky-style training montages and an outrageously silly climactic yakuza mega-kill. (Weapons include egg whisks and bits of tissue.)
Oh, yeah. There are yakuza. They're surprisingly intimidating, actually, and scarier than the yakuza in a lot of proper yakuza films. Every time they appear, something terrible will happen to someone sympathetic (or to Ryousuke).
Also, this film's rules of cloning are weird. Never let a clone know that it's a clone. (Whoops.) Never call it by the name of its original, because that'll make it want to eliminate him. (Whoops.) Also, clones have a limited lifespan that can be reduced by snot.
In short, it's mental. This writer/director's next film would be Haruko's Paranormal Laboratory (2015), in which a TV transforms into a person with a body and mind. And yet, though, despite this...
Momoko (Miwako Wagatsuma) is both adorable and believable. The clone's situation is extremely relatable, despite being a million miles away from the life of anyone in the audience, and the film sets up awkward, delicate, slightly painful relationships between these three people. (Incidentally, Ryota Ozawa does excellently at portraying two physically identical but completely different men, eliciting extreme and opposite reactions from the audience.) Where these relationships end up is absolutely indisputably 1000% correct. I'd have screamed the house down had Momoko not ended up saying what she does. This film's ending is healthy and right (and weird) and I'm happy for everyone. But it still hurts. A bit.
Also, Ryousuke grows. At the end of the film, he's not the hateful loser he was at the beginning.
This film was a bit of a struggle. But I like it. But sometimes it pushed me away. I admire the cast a lot more than you'd expect of something this silly. (Also, Reon Kadena plays a hot nurse.) I don't expect ever to rewatch this... but I'm thinking of hunting down some of the director's other films, like Haruko's Paranormal Laboratory and Signal 100.