Lowlife Love [Gesu no Ai] is a film that depicts the reality of filmmaking industry in the Japanese or perhaps Asian world. It’s premise is not original, but with some famous actors casted in it, will this film stand out among others? And will it reveal the real truth behind the industry that creates our entertainment? Follow me as we dissect the film slowly.
(this film contains Nudity and Jap-style rape, quirkiness and gay scenes, M18 rating)
The film begins with a scene of the main character, Tetsuo, who is sleeping with a prostitute is being told off by his sister that their mum is angry at him. As a film director, an indie one at that, in Japan is a very inconsistent job with low pay and opportunities. Tetsuo is operating a small studio with some actors-wannabe learning acting there. We are also introduced to two young newcomers, an actress Minami and Ken, a scriptwriter who has lived outside Japan.
What I love is how the film so truthfully and honestly portrays the lifestyle of indie filmmakers and actors in Japan. Though its set in the Land of the Rising Sun, I believe those from other countries who work in the same Industry in Asia also face the same situation. As a young actress looking to go big, she has to be willing to coddle to and ‘serve’ the directors sexually. Minami goes through this period the hard way and eventually accepts it as part of the lifestyle of rising actress. We are also shown other actresses who uses the same methods and learn to choose only promising directors/producers before they advance on them with more sex. It is a cruel job criteria that is often brush off aside, never being mentioned in public.
The same goes for Ken, who is able to write great script but has not been able to find an opportunity to be discovered until much later. Tetsuo also suffers from lack of funding, though he still has time to screw around, deep inside he is suffering and holding on to his hope of making great film. There is a scene where he discovered his sister selling her body online just to make ends meet for the family, which changes him immensely.
Overall, the story pace is alright, with some memorable scenes in between. The characters are not really full of personality except Minami and Tetsuo. Most of the other characters, including Ken, play a minor role but important role in linking each character to one another. Theres a certain portrayal of gay characters but I feel that its too forced and honestly quite irrelevant to the story. Also, the treatment of women by men in this film might distress some viewers. Just a warning: Some sex scenes/ weird scenes are based off Japanese sexual fantasy which may seem weird to us outside Japan. The film title superbly foreshadow the whole premise, and you should already know why by now. (hint: the love refers to a filmmaker’s passion & also sex)