Tag (2015)

Directed by Sion Sono
Written by Yusuke Yamada, Sion Sono
Produced by Ryuichiro Inagaki, Takahiro Ono, Masayuki Tanishima
Starring Reina Triendl, Mariko Shinoda, Erina Mano, Yuki Sakurai, Aki Hiraoka, Ami Tomite, Mao Aso, Sayaka Isoyama, Mao Mita, Takumi Saito, Maryjun Takahashi

“Graphic,” “provocative,” and “controversial” are the euphemistic catchwords invariably employed by distributors’ copywriters to describe Sion Sono’s movies, because “inane,” “obnoxious,” and “Americanized” won’t fill seats or shift units so operatively. His edgily puerile style stains the travails of a cute student (Triendl) who evades dangers eolian, pedagogic, nuptial, etc. whilst wandering through alternate, distaff realities and identities (Shinoda/Mano) with the support of a friend (Sakurai). Ingenuities of Yamada’s novel are mishandled for Sono’s overedited, compositionally clumsy treatment, which pads these conceptions with wearisomely overabounding screams, godawful digital SFX, and maladroitly choreographed action. Delicately comely Triendl and her counterparts acquit themselves well amidst this cheesy chaos, which can’t be said for their loudest co-stars. Forestial exteriors of certain scenes are as pretty to behold as most of Sono’s actresses, at least a few of whom probably prostituted themselves to the infamously dirty director in exchange for prominence in his farce. Filmic conventions in Japan have been defied (and in turn, occasionally established) by playful auteurs like Suzuki, Obayashi, Miike, Tsukamoto, et al. to fulfill whimsies or aesthetic and thematic purposes; in contrast, Sono’s rebellion against them is as cornily, calculatedly hollow as poorly executed. Even lowly dealers in genre fodder like Yugo Sakamoto have some comedy and skill to recommend them, which is quite beyond Sono’s sentimental, substandard spectacles.

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