Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s filmography represents various generations’ desires for individual expression in a repressed Japanese society. His 1993 debut, A Touch of Fever, follows two rent boys who numb themselves to sex and refuse to admit their feelings for each other, while 2008’s All Around Us cycles through years in the life of a married couple coping with external social pressures following the loss of their child. Hush!, Hashiguchi’s greatest film to date, falls distinctly in the middle of those two films: it’s about three young people who’ve made it to the other side of a youth spent denying who they are, but who are not yet able to overcome the cultural expectations that prevent them from living openly as the adults they want to be.
After a chance encounter with a gay couple, Asako (Reiko Kataoka), a young woman from a broken family, asks the closeted Katsuhiro (Seiichi Tanabe) to have a baby with her (“you have fatherly eyes,” she says). As Katsuhiro and his boyfriend Naoya (Kazuya Takahashi) begin to spend time with Asako, mulling over her offer, a bond forms between the three—one that Katsuhiro and Naoya’s families soon attempt to break up. With Hush!, Hashiguchi means to contrast the honest love and respect between his non-traditional family unit with the fractured values of the traditional ones that reject it. The desire for a baby at the film’s center, then, serves as a lovely, unforced metaphor: As one generation inevitably withers, a new one with its own ideals is on the way.
Published as part of Japan Cuts 2016 | Dispatch 3.