Director: Yuki Tanada
Starring: Noriko Eguchi,Yoshikazu Ebisu, Akira Emoto, Misako Hirata
Electric Button (Moon and Cherry), revolves around college freshman Tadokoro (Tasuku Nagaoka) who enters the ‘erotic’ literature club. Expecting a group of likeminded horny guys, he at first isn’t disappointed, that is until he meets sole female member Mayama (Noriko Eguchi). The star member of the club and a published writer to boot, Mayama quickly takes the newcomer under her wing, introducing him to sexual endeavors of many kinds. As he gets attached to Mayama, he discovers that she is merely using him to relieve writers’ block and is the focus of her latest story. Torn between his attraction to Mayama and the advances of co-worker Akane (Misako Hirata), he sets out to discover exactly what he means to each girl and what they mean to him.
Writer/director Yuki Tanaka puts together a surprisingly warm and very funny picture. With a synopsis that plays out like a million other films, she is able to make the film go above the trappings of the genre and creates an engaging film. An independent film, the film is shot in digital, but the intelligent use of framing and lighting quickly made me forget about the look of the movie. There are long cuts and a sense of real investment in the characters, especially the surprisingly sympathetic Tadokoro.
Nagaoka does a great job as Tadokoro; he is a solid lead and he gives a genuine performance. It is easy to sympathize with his character though the attention he receives can be a bit baffling considering the nebbish take on the character. Eguchi shines as Mayama, giving a very revealing and brave performance. She is certainly not afraid to bare it all for the camera and it is easy to believe that her sexually liberated character knows exactly what she needs to do to get what she wants. Her soft moments are particularly god with facial reactions telling the story and her silence can speak volumes for her character.
The rest of the cast doesn’t have much to do, aside from a few plot point reveals, and Hirata’s role as the girlfriend is important but not a character I could get behind. It was nice to see the great Akira Emoto wax nostalgic about school and sex life. The film does not have much of a score to go by, aside from a few incidental cues and some sparse insert music. The film’s independent nature is certainly a factor in this, but the film does excel in many other ways.
In the end, Electric Button is a very entertaining and sexually oriented coming of age film. While I would hesitate to give it the genre moniker of a ‘pinky’ film, it’s mature subject matter and darkly funny elements certainly should appeal to a larger audience than its pedigree would suggest. With some truly heartfelt acting and a number of laugh out loud moments, Electric Button, is a terrific and very entertaining picture.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Man Woman and the Wall and Love Exposure
Special Thanks to Tidepoint Pictures for providing a viewing copy of the film!