Reviews

Raindance Film Festival 2010: ‘Boys on the Run’

★★★☆☆

Having watched films like American Pie (1999) and the 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), we have all been exposed time and time again to the ridiculous experiences of the modern day ‘man-child’ and his struggle with sexuality in the 21st Century. Much like these films, Daisuke Miura’s Boys on the Run (2010) can be seen as a sex comedy of sorts as it makes for painfully humorous viewing with its layers of ‘hands over your eyes’ moments and excruciating dialogue. What sets this film apart is that there is a degree of honesty about it that establishes unique empathy for its farcical protagonist.

Tanishi (Kazunobu Mineta) is a 29 year old male who is stuck in a dead end job refilling vending machines with novelty items. He has an unhealthy obsession with sex; an obsession so perverse that at one point during the movie he fantasises about his mothers’ breasts! However Tanishi’s sexual frustrations and fantasies quickly become something more sincere and meaningful as we see him fall for a work colleague Chiharu (Mei Kurokawa). Of course, he doesn’t make anything easy on himself and is quickly caught with his pants down, quite literally! From here on, chaos descends as Tanishi fights for Chiharu’s love.

Upon viewing Miura’s debut film, the straightforward approach he has built his reputation on is evident and apparent immediately: his low key and simplistic style of shooting the film places little emphasis on perfection giving it a gritty rawness that reflects the ambiguity of young manhood. Such imperfection leaves plenty of space for a contest between maturity and immaturity to take place as the plot unfolds whilst allowing the emotional elements of the film to permeate the narrative deeply and work in contrast to the ludicrous behaviour of Tanishi. Such a fine balance as this gives licence to a barmy tale of young manhood and even warms our hearts in the process.

The combination of a fresh approach by the films director and the inclusion of a relative newcomer to Japanese cinema in Kazunobu Mineta gives Boys on the Run an air of originality, at least as far as comedies go anyway. However, it isn’t totally unique as moments of it are reminiscent of the sweet awkwardness found in Napoleon Dynamite (2004) and the bawdy behaviour of the characters in films like Superbad (2007) and Knocked Up (2007). Further to this, the film does have the potential to fail due to Mineta’s obvious lack of acting experience. Thankfully however, his role is bolstered by the strong performances of established Japanese actors Mei Kurokawa (Nekonade [2008]Way of Blue Sky [2005]) and Ryuhei Matsuda (Gohatto [1999], Blue Spring [2001]).

To summarize, Boys on the Run is a torturous sex comedy full of all the usual moments of unbearable viewing that you expect from such a film, yet it is a film that still manages to explore the intensity and pain of infatuation and love on a very sincere level. Boys on the Run is uncomfortable, definitely emotional and absolutely obnoxious, and it’s the film’s oxymoronic tone that makes it so worth a watch.

Russell Cook