Fantasia Film Festival Update: One
For Love's Sake
Fantasia definitely begun on a high note Thursday, July 19th with its showing of the simply delightful For Love's Sake. Takashi Miike succeeds here in presenting a film that carries his signature elements, while still serving up a couple surprises. From its excellent comedic timing, exciting fight scenes, endearing characters and striking visuals, this musical love story is brimming with charm. A fun take on the star-crossed lovers theme. This clashing of rich and poor, of preppy and edgy, is redolent of movies like The Outsiders and Grease. This is one to see.
Also screening the opening day was Peter Chan's Dragon. Publicized in Shanghai with a billboard so large it broke the Guinness world record, this movie set itself up to be closely judged. Standing firm as a fast-paced, well-choreographed martial arts film, it definitely has the quality to support the conviction behind its bold advertising.
The main character, initially presented as a humble paper-maker living in a rural village, carries with him a slew of dodgy secrets. Dragon masterfully plays with perspective as it unfolds this man's violent past. It poses tough philosophical questions about the core self, justice and redemption. My only regret is that I watched it alone as I imagine it would make a great conversation piece.
With its muted visuals -a predominantly grey palette, this film immediately conveys a sombre sense of foreboding. Furthering that ominous feeling is the opening scene, which depicts a couple purchasing a condo together. The woman pricks her finger and the man proceeds to place his lips to the wound, half 'kissing it better', half a dark, almost vampiric drawing of her blood. A significant moment that sets up the film's theme; the notion that love is someone becoming a part of you and how that can devolve into something obsessive and all-consuming.
A deeply disturbing and provocative film, if a bit heavy-handed. Beast, with its anxious, body-horror aesthetic, would not be out of place alongside the works of David Lynch, David Cronenberg or Lars Von Trier.
Stay tuned for the next Fantasia Film Festival update!
Promotional image of For Love's Sake is from the Fantasia Film Festival's official webpage.