Man, Woman, and the Wall is a 2007 Japanese pinku film from Junk Food director Masashi Yamamoto. The film follows Ryu a twenty-something writer for a generic magazine who has just moved into a new apartment. He quickly becomes enamored by his cute next door neighbor Satsuki. Faster than you can put on a pair of headphones and say "The Conversation", Ryu is using a microphone to listen through the thin walls (eavesdropping on her baths, hook-ups with her boyfriend, and convos with a rival stalker who keeps calling her), picking through her trash, and inventing ways to strike up conversations with her.
Okay, it's a typical male fantasy, most pinku/softcore flicks are, which leads me to wonder what a pinku written and directed by a woman would be like. I wonder if there is one. I know the genre fairly well and cannot think of a noted woman helmer. Drop me a line if you know of one. But, I digress. The Japanese, seemingly, do look at perversion and kink with a different slant than Westerners and I (unlike other critics) wont bother trying to dissect why. Suffice to say, Man, Woman, and the Wall is a good example of a view of the kinder, sweeter, gentler side of sick-minded obsession. Especially catering to the weaker aspects of the male psyche, when his perversion is uncovered, without spoiling anything specific, the film offers a hearty and convenient way for Satsuki to not be entirely horrified and even accepting of her lovelorn stalker.
There was quite a lot of good within the film. First, Yamamoto shows some low budget panache in the early going with the films most inspired bit. When we first see Satsuki's apartment is all polka dot walls, pink frilly canopies, and sickeningly young girlish decor. Then, when Ryu actually gets to go inside of it, we see that her apartment is extremely drab. What we saw before was Ryu's guy fantasy of her surroundings. It's a great trick of reality crashing down and the film reflecting its protagonists perspective.
The acting is a tad uneven, more a directorial failing, I think. I say that because Keita Ohno, who plays Ryu, and actual notorious porn princess Sora Aoi, who plays Satsuki, are essentially portraying cyphers/ stock character parts, the well-meaning loser and the cute, dream chick. Yamamoto makes the choice to film some of their stuff very broad and cartoonish, while their actual one-on-one conversation scenes are contrastingly shot in very naturalistic one take, no edit, wide shots with a more realistic tone.
When I think back on Man, Woman, and the Wall, I'm left with a completely lukewarm impression. Now, while that's perfectly normal for most films, when it comes to the pinku genre it is completely strange. I mean, it is a category that, at its best, usually screams for titillation, shock, subversion, or all of the above. Most often I'm left thinking a pinku film is basic level garbage or in that rare great case exploitative or art-leaning inspired. Man, Woman, and the Wall's plotting was predictable and characters all standard but still the film was breezily executed, by no means totally stupid, and even somewhat charming in its simplicity. Still, I can see how someone looking for Assault Jack the Ripper, Embryo Hunts in Secret, or an Angel Guts style pinku would be disappointed by its lack of provocation and those looking for pure tits and ass glowering let down by it's more straightforward, indie-cute story and less than a handful of nudie scenes.
The DVD: TLA Releasing.
Picture: The film is presented in Non-Anamorphic Widescreen. "Hey, that DVD of a cheap, Japanese, direct to video, digital movie didn't look so hot." That's the sort of things no one should be saying. It's an accepted part of the genre. The low budget DV medium is often a noisy one and one given to less than stellar definitions in terms of contrast, color, and overall clarity. Deal with it. Given those limitations, the transfer is decent and not likely to find much improvement.
Sound: The audio is 2.0 Stereo, Japanese, with optional English subtitles. Again the issue seem to be chalked up to the low budget. The sound gear must have been a mess because there is actually some low distortion in the background of some scenes. It's not horrible or ruining, but it has been a long time since I've encountered a modern made film, even be it cheap, amateur, or low budget, with this kind of recording wreck on the audio track.
Extras: The film contains the following extras, a still gallery, original trailer (plus more TLA release trailers), and a breezy but very nice "making of" featurette (21:02).
Conclusion: Its almost a shame when a movie is just good. Not great. Not awful. Just good. Not being a failure, not being an annoying waste, should be enough but Man, Woman, and the Wall is a flat number that doesn't do anything bad but also doesn't do anything inspiring or very bold. Really, that's why I come to the pinku genre. Give me some shock, make me feel, dirty, go where other films won't go... Still, Kudo's to TLA for actually slightly besting the barebones Japanese release by putting out the film with a decent featurette. I'll say this a purchase only for the die hard pinku genre fans and rental for the rest.