On Friday (which already seems like weeks ago at this point), Daniel Kasman wrote in MUBI’s Notebook: “The festival really came alive for me for the first time since Omirbaev’s Student—not including what’s obviously the best film here, but playing in Cannes Classics: Andrey Konchalovskiy’s Runaway Train (1985)—with another film about the anguished-to-bursting suffering of students. Only, this was a high school musical gang film by Takashi Miike, For Love’s Sake. Set in 1972, cracking with vibrant colors (and one of the handful of films here show on 35mm), images densely cluttered with classroom-alleyway bric-a-brac and as appreciative (and full) of constant brawling as a Raoul Walsh picture, the film takes its source manga and brings high school drama to the level of emotional sincerity and endless violence of the director’s time traveling samurai epic, Izo.”
“As children, Ai Saotome and Makoto Taiga have a fateful encounter on the ski slope of Tateshinakogen in Nagano prefecture,” explains Maggie Lee in Variety. “Eleven years later, Makoto (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is seen embroiled in a street fight in Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku district. Ai (Emi Takei) recognizes him by the scar on his forehead and uses her rich parents’ powerful connections to get him into her elitist high school in the hopes of reforming him…. The original manga Ai to Makoto (love and sincerity) by Ikki Kajiwara and Takumi Nagayasu has gone through several screen and TV incarnations, assuming cult status equivalent to that of Love Story. Miike’s interpretation stands apart from his other reworkings of 1970s children’s entertainment, such as Zebraman, Yatterman and Ninja Kids, replacing the affectionate and playful mood in those pics with blase cynicism here. Like the chandeliers dangling aggressively from every ceiling space in Ai’s monstrously opulent mansion, counterpointed by Makoto’s dingy shack, there are dark, grotesque overtones to the ludicrously ornate mise-en-scene and the hysterical song-and-dance numbers that outdo the murderous shenanigans in Miike’s other musical, The Happiness of the Katakuris.”
“Reflecting the look and feel of 1970s cinema with neon glows of sulphurous orange, soft focus lighting and slow-motion fights, Miike ensures that For Love’s Sake has style to burn,” writes Allan Hunter in Screen. “An initial fight between Makoto and a gang segues from Michael Jackson’s Thriller to West Side Story in manner as the violence prompts an explosion of song and dance. Most of the plentiful musical interludes are pitched somewhere between Bollywood and Broadway occasionally tipping over into John Waters territory. At times this could be Miike’s Cry Baby or an especially surreal episode of Glee.”
“And it’s a pretty good musical,” finds Mike D’Angelo, writing at the AV Club, “with catchy songs, inventive choreography… For some reason, though, Miike felt this trifle needed to be two hours and 17 minutes long, so the second half spins its wheels on a needlessly complicated gang-war scenario that resembles his adaptations of the Crows Zero manga series…. But even bloated Miike is often a hoot.”
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