Tale of teen’s slavish devotion restricted to older audiencesThe following dialogue could mean different things to different people.
“But I like it when you strike me on the head. It gives my dull life a shake.”
“In that case, you’re a pervert.”
One eavesdropper might hear an innocent conversation between two teens in a budding romance, another a deviant exchange about abnormal desires.
The Korean media rating board opted for the latter, giving a Japanese film waiting for its opening in Korea a rating equivalent to an R in the United states ― restricting viewers to 18-year-olds and over.
The tagline for the film “Moonlight Whispers” might make the board’s decision more understandable: “He wants to be her dog. She likes to see him cry. Love hurts.”
“The scenes include teen sex, sado-masochism and fetish themes,” announced the Korea Media Rating Board in its decision earlier this month. “The scenes went too far.”
The Korean importer of the film was disappointed by the board’s decision, saying the film received an R-15 rating in Japan.
“It’s supposed to be a story about teens finding out they love each other,” said Oh June from Indiestory, the film’s importer. “It is unfortunate that high school students will not have the chance to watch a film about people their age.”
“But considering the sentiment in Korea, we will try to understand the [board’s] decision,” she said. “We waited a long time for its opening in Korea.”
The 1999 film was the directorial debut of Akihiko Shiota. Before being screened in Japan, it was introduced at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival, where it was well-received. Following Toronto, the film went to the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland and the Brisbane International Film Festival in Australia.
The character Takuya (played by Kenji Mizuhashi) is in love with a popular high school girl Satsuki (Tsugumi). They realize they are mutually attracted during school kendo practice. Their relationship develops like any other ― they hold hands, go through awkward fondling and aborted attempts to have sex.
Satsuki does not take her new boyfriend seriously when he gravely tells her that he wants to be her dog ― until she discovers a drawer in his room full of her used socks, close-up photographs of her legs and an audio tape of her urinating. She recoils in horror, calling him hentai (pervert), and breaks up with him.
Takuya continues to follow her, however, even when she is on dates with other boys, and pleads with her to take him back as her slave. Initially she resists but eventually tells him he might as well act like her dog since he wants that so badly. She soon realizes that she likes to watch him suffer.
“I feel great watching you cry,” she proclaims, her foot shoved against his chest. Satsuki abuses Takuya psychologically at first, making him watch her have sex with another boy, and ultimately hurts him physically, lashing him with a tree branch before telling him to kill himself.
The rating board saw the plot as “sado-masochism, ” hence its decision to restrict the audience. Others, however, may view it as a touching story of unconditional love.
The film opens this Thursday.
by Lee Min-a