After directing what may have been the worst film screened at last year’s Japan Cuts, director Eiji Uchida bounces back with the much more nuanced character drama Love and Other Cults. The bulk of this narrative concerns abandoned school-age girl Ai (Sairi Itoh), and the various cults and families she becomes a part of to feel like she belongs somewhere. But there are various, wayward supporting players here, and their own desires to join gangs as a means to finding friends and a sense of purpose feeds into rather than distracts from, the theme of Uchida’s film. The ending of Love and Other Cults suggests something far wackier than what proceeded it, but otherwise there’s generally little here that feels unnecessary (save maybe for some of the heavy violence). Uchida’s film tries to make sense of why people fall in with who they fall in with, and it creates an appropriately volatile space to explore that concern.
Published as part of New York Asian Film Festival | Dispatch 2.