Directed by: #AnshulChauhan
Far Eastern words of wisdom are all around if you look closely; according to the Samurai, it is better to be the enemy of a good person than the friend of a bad one. #Indiefilm Bad Poetry Tokyo explores this theme and the perils of trusting the wrong people. Jun (Shuna Iijima) leaves home for the bright lights of Tokyo and the promise of an acting career.
Boyfriend Taka (Orson Mochizuki) has dubious connections and draws Jun into the dark world of a nightclub hostess. She convinces herself it’s only temporary and her big break is drawing closer. Her dreams are ultimately dashed as a disturbing experience forces her to flee.
Jun returns home to confront a past mixing uneasily with the present. A dysfunctional relationship with her father (Kohei Mashiba) gradually unravels as home truths race to the surface. Relief arrives in the shape of old flame Yuki (Takashi Kawaguchi), who reminds her that life in the countryside wasn’t quite so bad after all. Her respite is shattered when new revelations trigger a showdown with her father and duplicitous boyfriend Taka resolves to track her down.
Director Anshul Chauhan carefully avoids the trap of filming the story in flashback which might have weakened the impetus. Instead, the piece benefits from a linear narrative beginning with Jun’s final months in Tokyo. The script is deeply visceral, depicting characters that attract little (if any) sympathy. It offers no sentiment and strips away any hint of self-pity in Jun’s demeanour. Of course Jun is human, but her mental strength makes her less vulnerable; which is a refreshing change for a character that is almost always written in victim mode. Many scenes portray a sense of confinement; where characters appear physically and mentally trapped in the moment. Simple lighting and framing of shot can heighten the tension, and the technique pays off handsomely with some memorable face-offs.
Shuna Iijima has tremendous presence in the role of Jun and runs away with virtually every scene in which she appears. An elfin like appearance betrays the physicality and consistency of performance; but make no mistake, this girl can act. Bad Poetry Tokyo is without doubt a finely tuned piece of #filmmaking; but the finale leaves the audience with a tantalising almost infuriating cliff-hanger. After setting the scene so carefully, it would have been more satisfying to present some form of resolution. Perhaps Anshul Chauhan has a sequel in mind; I wouldn’t complain if he maintains the same quality of output?