Directed by Isogai Nagisa
Thriller / Short, 45′
Director Isogai Nagisa’s first film to the screens comes in the form of ‘Lust of Angels’, a short film centred around the infamous Hanagawa line (a.k.a. Groper Train), and how four teen schoolgirls take it into their own hands to catch the gropers and deliver up justice.
The film deals with difficult sexual themes, not limited to rape, sexual assault, and self-discovery of sexual preferences and sexuality. Nagisa is dealing with very intense themes in a limited space of time, and unfortunately the execution falls short. She attempts to give each theme its own screen time, but ultimately this ends up in a mash of overlapping themes, each remaining undeveloped and without depth.
The shock factor is there, particularly given the rape scenes and the obvious sexual assault that occurs, but without the necessary development, the film fails to bring anything new to the table, and instead it simply appears to be a rehash or even quite possibly a ‘showing for showing’s sake’ scenario.
As with the limited development of the themes, character development is equally neglected. Main character Saori (Elisa Yanagi) receives her character development in two strange doses at the beginning and end of the film, rather than being delivered equally. Elisa Yanagi is quite stiff in her delivery, which does not aid the development of the character in such a difficult setting, although it does become somewhat more fitting with the revelations at the end.
Yuriko (Reine Honma) has a more balanced character and with better development, however instead of maintaining a character theme that could be sustained, Nagisa tries to make her all things in one character, and it does not work, resulting in Yuriko becoming a character of many pieces but no whole.
It is a shame that ‘Lust of Angels’ falls short in so many ways, as it is a brave thing to attempt to address these issues in such a small amount of time, and Nagisa cannot be criticised for aiming low for her first film. With more time, development and careful writing, this film could have been a bold and shocking statement on the treatment of women and the seriousness of sexual assault in public, but for now, the film remains a shadow of what it could have been.