“YOU NEED TISSUES FOR YOUR ISSUES” reads a woman’s shirt near the start of Akihiko Shiota’s Wet Woman in the Wind, the director’s second film from 2016, after the bubbly and earnest Lifeline. Or maybe what you really need, the film seems to suggest, is some good old-fashioned titillation: The woman, Shiora (Mamiya Yuki), brazenly strips off her shirt, to the surprise and chagrin of Kosuke (Nagaoka Tasuku), a nearby napping playwright whom we later learn is in a state of self-imposed celibacy.
One of five films commissioned by Nikkatsu to revive the studio’s popular ‘Roman Porno’ line from the 1970s, Wet Woman in the Wind is unabashedly nonsensical, a veritable barrage of animalistic pleasures that attempts no less than to strip down the intellectual pretensions of both its protagonist and its audience. That it attempts to do so using both its primal, sexual imagery and the more ingrained approaches of contemporary arthouse cinema creates a fascinating, frustrating tension—one which the film’s selection for last year’s Locarno Film Festival certainly attests to. It’s an unusual, imperfect amalgam, but one that, given the tradition Shiota’s working in, seems almost pointless to criticize. (The strange, whiplash-inducing treatment of rape, however, is much more questionable.) “Bodies don’t lie,” Shiora tells Kosuke as she attempts to seduce him. And whatever your response to the film, it’s hard to argue with that.
Previously published as part of New York Asian Film Festival | Dispatch 1.