East of Jefferson
ジェファソンの東 「Jefason no Higashi」
Release Date: June 16th, 2018
Running Time: 18 mins.
Director: Koji Fukada
Writer: Koji Fukada (Screenplay)
Starring: Yuri Ogino, Tatsuya Kawamura, Tsuyoshi Kondo,
This short film is about the night two men and a woman meet at a love hotel. While it sounds like a set-up for an AV film, it turns out to be a blackly comic take on a “reunion” with a bleakish ending rather than some erotic fun. Much like Human Comedy Tokyo (and much of Fukada’s oeuvre), the awkward interactions between humans are the focus of the story.
I won’t go into detail but what should have been an adult assignation turns into an exploration of childhood with all of the attendant awkwardness that involves. There are twists and turns that induce laughter and the contrast between the erotic and the sentimental is played up as thoughts of f*cking get replaced by reciting nursery rhymes. What makes it all work are committed performances from Yuri Ogino, as a woman who may be slightly loopy, and Tatsuya Kawamura as an irritable chap who is easy for the other characters to needle, not least because he always wants to do the deed.
It takes place in one set but that set has enough space for the camera to change positions and also a revolving bed for the actors to use as they are alternately display models whilst exploring their emotions or comic fools as they are being presented in the less than flattering sight of being half-nude. With narrow confines and only a few props, the focus of the film is the dialogue and acting and it is convincing and moving for the story which, at 18 minutes, flies by.
But what about that title? I am not sure and I haven’t done the research, I simply had the chance to watch it thanks to the We Are One Global Film Festival. This is a great short for a film festival and a festival is a great chance for the director to talk about this work and what the title means. Regardless, I was still moved by the film.