Slight Fever of a 20-Year-Old


Drama / Romance

IMDb Rating 6.2 10 313

lgbt coming of age

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 11, 2022 at 06:58 PM


720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1.02 GB
Japanese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 53 min
P/S counting...
1.9 GB
Japanese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 53 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by screaminmimi 9 / 10

strength in surprising places

I saw this movie in DVD release that came out 10 years after its initial theatrical release, so there is a lot of making-of stuff on the DVD that reveals some surprising things about the movie, e.g. almost all the actors were first-timers; it was a huge box office hit in Japan; the director put down his own work as substandard (much too hard on himself, in my opinion).

The story itself turns and twists on the fact that characters who seem strong--Tatsuro and Yoriko--are actually weaker than their younger friends--Shin-chan and Asami-- who turn out to be strongest when they are the most vulnerable. The name of the escort service the boys work for is Pinocchio, a sort of puppet palace/donkey island where it takes something special to become a real, live boy. Overcoming self deception is the biggest hurdle. I suppose it is meant to be Tatsuro's movie, but Shin-chan stole it from him, not with any sort of mugging, but largely because of the charm of the character. All of the performances were pitch perfect.

I didn't come away feeling quite as gloomy as our other commentator did, maybe because I recognize low-key Japanese upbeat-ness when I see it. I was charmed by all four of these kids, but definitely not in a manipulated Hollywood sort of way. They all seemed like the kids I teach: very real, very embattled, and very resilient.

I have a quibble with the subtitles. They were mostly pretty good, but since it's an older movie, we're stuck with them... no way of turning them off. However, there was an occasional omission of some dialog from the translation that I could see no reason for, and--if left in--would have actually enhanced the understanding. I think perhaps this was critical in the last scene, and could be the thing that led the other commentator to find it depressing, because he didn't catch this one little bit of dialog--when Tatsuro tells Shin-chan how much he actually got for posing and Shin-chan's response to it--that was actually quite sardonically funny.

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 7 / 10

A Japanese film about gay youths in Tokyo that's a blend of shock and understatement

In this gay-themed Japanese film from the early Nineties, Tatsuru (Yoshihiko Hakamada), a college student, and Shin (Masashi Endô), who's in high school, work out of the same Tokyo bar called Pinocchio as gay rent boys. Yoriko (Reiko Kataoka) and Atsumi (Sumiyo Yamada) are their respective girl friends--but not girlfriends, though they'd both like to be. Tatsuru and Shin are teen dreamboats in their way: both have boyish, androgynous good looks and perfect hair they're always fussing with. At first the focus is on the tall Tatsuru, who's shown with a john in the opening sequence, which establishes that he is sexually ambivalent and emotionally shut down. He's good at sex supposedly, if you like making love with an alabaster robot. He's cut off from his family despite his father's attempts to maintain contact and lives in a tiny apartment by himself till Shin, who knows he's gay and comes out to his parents and is kicked out of the house, moves in with Tatsuru. This is only supposed to be temporary, but it brings things to a head because little Shin's in love with Tatsuru, as he's told Atsumi. She chides Shin later for chickening out of this opportunity to declare his love to Tatsuru. This is the old theme of the gay kid who falls in love with a straight guy, except the object of his affections isn't straight but just unwilling to admit he's gay, and to make things worse is a colleague in the skin trade..

Ironically, Shin is a washout as a male prostitute. Or perhaps it makes sense that somebody who knows he's gay and is in love with someone he sees all the time will have trouble turning the sex on and off mechanically the way Tatsuru can.

'Slight Fever' reeks of urban ennui, though cultural differences make it a little hard for a westerner to assess the mood of this elegantly understated film--which, nonetheless, is as Hashiguchi starts out a commentary by saying, "sensational," never more so than in the scene toward the end where he himself plays a client in a hotel room who winds up with both Tatsuru and Shin in his bed, a situation that goes very badly for all concerned. This is one of a series of tense surprises. In a previous one Tatsuru goes to Yoriko's house to help move a TV and is forced to stay to dinner only to discover Yoriko's father is one of his clients. Maybe this is meant to be funny, but both males appear to be imploding throughout a meal in which the two females chatter on and on. It seems like the only communicating in the film is with or between females, but it's mostly just empty chatter. The conversations that matter between or among the males never take place.

The technically so-so DVD includes a bonus section made ten years after 'Slight Fever's' release where director Ryosuke Hashiguchi describes the experience of this, his first film, and two of the main actors who've had successful careers since tell how it was for them this first time. None of the four principals had had previous acting experience. The interview films also show stills taken on the set. Hashiguchi looked a lot younger, was boyishly handsome, much like Hakamada, who was fresh from the provinces and a fashion model whose cold, blank expression the director liked; and in fact as Hakamada reports, he and the director were confused with each other on the set more than once, though Hashiguchi never acknowledged the resemblance. Hashiguchi, with typical Japanese reserve, reveals little about himself other than that he is gay and that he labored over the script for 2 1/2 years because he wanted other people to "understand how it is." The gay life--did he live it in this way? Yes and no, probably. A gay man who had a sexually promiscuous youth can easily imagine what it is like to be a rent boy. Or maybe he was one. What is clear is that the contrasts between Tatsuro and Shin dramatize the difference between a boy who knows he's gay and one who's struggling with the fact.

Hashiguchi reveals that the film was a surprise hit in Japan and young men and women are seen in stills lining up for blocks to see it, while provincial gay boys wrote the director to tell him his film saved them from suicide. Hashiguchi isn't wrong when he says the film is badly made. The project was underfunded and rushed and the technical package is unimpressive. It's shot in 16mm. Visuals are okay but not great, and as the director points out things fell apart style-wise when he chose to take on the role of the john in the hotel room at the end and they switched to a hand-held camera that gets way too jiggly at one point. But if this is the seminal gay coming of age film for a generation of gay Japanese boys, those faults don't matter. There are also signs that Hashiguchi has a flair for plot and editing, despite the extreme haste in which the latter had to be done, and his later efforts (which I haven't seen) are rumored to be successful. Judging from the lack of external reviews the film seems to have had zero theatrical life in the West, so despite its local success and a sort of interesting blend of shock and understatement and the fact that the performances do work, it seems like a minor film even from the gay point of view. Some scenes are fascinating; others with a slight shift in plot elements could just be moments from some conventional Japanese TV series. But if this was a ground-breaker and now could be a conventional TV series, that's not such a bad thing either.

Reviewed by Lucky-63 3 / 10

Thin gruel

The word "Slight" in the title fits. Thin acting, an equally thin plot line, and a string of vacuously elongated scenes make up this film, which demonstrates what happens when a director in-over-his-head meets a half-finished script and no-experience talents.

"Fever" -- which is supposed to suggest "hot", not "tepid" -- wants to be a morality play about two young hustlers. Tatsaru is a college student working as a male prostitute. Shin works in the same establishment, a bar whose clients choose from a stable of boys.

Aimed at a teen audience, apparently one motive of this movie is to distinguish for the audience the difference between sex for money and love. The film vaguely manages to approximate this, its only clear, idea ... then gives us two or three empty minutes to contemplate it.

Both of the boys are sought after by girls their own age. The father of one girl is a client of Tatsaru in mid-film. When Tatsaru later goes to her parents' home for dinner, there is nothing but the embarrassed "tension" between the two men to keep us interested ... for at *least ten minutes.

Another of the film's apparent motives: to establish that gay men are lonely, and that love between two men is hopeless. This sentiment -- uncontradicted by any of what passes for action in the film -- is spelled out verbatim by an drunken adult client toward the film's end in another of the stretched-beyond belief scenes. Many art films stretch action to good effect, but this film is just filling time.

I hated "Twist" when I saw it, but it was at least competent as a film. "Sudden Fever" can't begin to aspire to that level.

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