Rating: 0.5 out of 5
My Rainy Days purports to deal with the controversial subject of child prostitution and the Lolita complex, otherwise known as ‘Lolicon’, in Japan.
But the movie is really a whimsical, cartoon-melodrama, which might have been written and directed by a 12-year-old film prodigy.
In fact, the movie marks the debut of 27-year-old Yuri Kanchiku, who tells an unabashedly sentimental tale of damaged adolescence in the most baffling of ways.
The film centres on Rio Ozawu (Nozomo Sasaki), a cherry-lipped Japanese high school student and prostitute, who acts as a pimp-ette for three classmates on the hunt for sugar-daddies.
It sounds like a sleazy enterprise, but Rio and her gang somehow manage to conduct their business with utmost cheer and an incomprehensible amount of pouting.
Along the way, a lot of shopping, funded by the girls’ unseen sexual exploits, happens – over music.
Enter anti-social history professor (Shousuke Tanihara) with vaguely good looks and brain damage.
For some inexplicable reason, Rio falls head over four-inch heels for this floppy-haired bag of monotonous charm.
For this man, Rio will retire – at the ripe old age of seventeen – from the prostitution business. She will also buy him a helmet. (It’s not a sexual innuendo, just a helmet.)
I won’t linger any further on how the unlikely romance blossoms, how the professor and his adolescent girlfriend get together, break up and then get together again – when she is of a more ‘mature’ age.
But I will say that their burgeoning love is portrayed in as sanitised a fashion as the scenes of child prostitution.
(The film’s idea of eroticism may be summed up as “two people standing under an umbrella in bad weather”)
The movie is a strange, empty and yet culpable product. Far from exploring the Lolicon complex and its sustenance of the child sex industry, Kanchiku unwittingly endorses the trends by glossing over them.
The kids’ clientele, for instance, is portrayed as a bunch of foolish yuppies or uncle-types – frisky but harmless.
The love story involving the professor, while utterly disconnected from anything that might be called the movie’s ‘theme’, nonetheless contains this subliminal message: “Guys, it’s okay to lust after schoolgirls. I mean, aren’t they cute with their pouty lips? It’s okay to want them. Just wait till they’re eighteen before you touch them.”
I don’t mean to offend anyone by ending on this sudden provocation. I’m just saying that a film which chooses a provocative vehicle and then refuses to engage in it, says nothing and means nothing.
My Rainy Days is such a film.
Ken Kwek is a playwright and screenwriter. His film credits include The Ballad of Vicki and Jake (2005), The Blue Mansion (2009) and Kidnapper (2010). Kidnapper premiered in Singapore last month and will be released in Malaysia on May 13.