Asako I & II
Gateway | Gateway
Literal sparks fly when Asako (Karata Erika) and Baku Torii (Higashide Masahiro) first lock eyes in a slow-motion meet-cute set to exploding firecrackers. But after a brief, passionate romance in their hometown of Osaka, Baku vanishes without a trace. Two years later, while working in a coffee shop in Tokyo, Asako meets a sake salesman, Ryohei (also Higashide), Baku’s perfect double. Slowly, but surely, she falls for him as well, and they enter a stable relationship. Asako has finally found happiness… or has she?
Triumphantly extending the lineage of the cinematic double (the most recent being Hong Sang-Soo’s Yourself and Yours, VIFF ’16), Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s follow-up to his sprawling four-woman drama Happy Hour is a supremely seductive romance. Equally adept with subtle, naturalistic detail and swoony pop-inflected turns that would be right at home in an urban melodrama, Hamaguchi imbues Asako’s journey of the heart with a thrilling sense of the unpredictable. (A rising, auto-tuned anthem and an outstretched hand will surely leave you breathless.) Flowing on currents of deeply felt longing, the film feels like it could go anywhere—and the increasingly impressive Hamaguchi is more than up to the task.
"[S]weet, soulful and achingly sad."—Michael Leader, Sight & Sound