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June 04, 2014

Office Love: Behind Closed Doors

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Ofisu rab:: Mahiru no kinryoku
Yasuro Uegaki - 1985
Impulse Pictures Region 1 DVD

A couple of shots in the beginning of Office Love might indicate that Yasuro Uegaki might have done well had he been making more mainstream films rather than a career in Roman Porno. The film introduces the main character, Reiko, with traveling shots from behind, following her legs and the upper part of her dress, office wear, which changes to a shot of her legs coming out of her car while in evening wear. It's not in the class of Henry King's traveling shot following the famed legs of Betty Grable in A Yank in the R.A.F., nor is it as sexy, but still it is an interesting visual choice, especially as the later Roman Porno films from Nikkatsu had a tendency to be more formulaic.

Reiko sits alone in a restaurant. A man on a date notices Reiko, and sits down to talk to her. The camera moves around so that we see Reiko and the man conversing at the table while in the background, the man's date observes the two, who it is revealed knew each other in the past. Uegaki was certainly working with a limited budget, but even if finances necessitated economic story telling, there is an understanding here of how to tell a story making the most of a single shot.

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Reiko is a secretary for a large travel agency, with a special apartment used for entertaining various men, The sex that bookends the film could well have been provocative for the original audience. Reiko beds a gaijin, something which might have caused unease among some socially conservative viewers, the rough equivalent being the scenes from blaxploitation movies where Jim Brown or Fred Williamson is shown in bed with a pretty blonde actress. The film ends with a threesome, Reiko with two men at once, the trio becoming a tangle of sweaty flesh, ending with Reiko going to bed alone, a smile on her face.

There really isn't that much to the story. Reiko is a single mother. The former lover she encounters in the restaurant is the father. Reiko now works for her former lover's father. What makes the narrative of interest is that Reiko deliberately goes against traditional Japanese culture, choosing to remain unattached, and clear eyed about herself, turning down the men who offer marriage.

I usually don't write much about film scores, but the music here is at times lush and romantic, and far better than what one might expect in this kind of film. This was in fact the debut score for Masahiro Kawasaki who went on to provide music for more mainstream films, getting a couple of nominations from the Japanese Academy. One of those nominations is for a film that received a U.S. release, Rampo. Sometimes the talent worth noticing, even in a soft core sex film, is not in front of the camera.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at June 4, 2014 07:31 AM