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Summer Vacation 1999

Type: Drama, Japan 1988

Director:Shusuke Kaneko

My rating: 4

Key actors/actresses:
Eri Fukatsu .... Norio
Eri Miyajima .... Yu/Kaoru
Hiromi Murata
Miyuki Nakano .... Naoto
Tomoko Otakara .... Kazuhiko

The time setting of the story is the last summer of the century (summer 1999). Vacation has emptied a Japanese boys' school of all but three boys: the junior Norio & the seniors Kazuhiko & Naoto. They have no families to return to for the summer, so they spend their days in the empty school. They are basically in charge of their own life during this summer. A darkness hangs over the three however: the suicide, three months earlier, of classmate Yu. Norio blames Kazuhiko for Yu's death, because it was well-known that Yu loved Kazuhiko; so Kazuhiko is cruel to Norio, and yet has bad dreams. This uneasy arrangement is exacerbated by the arrival of Kaoru, a student comes early for the fall - who looks exactly like Yu. Everyone is confused and a heavy sense of guilt is stirred up for Kaoru not only looks like Yu, he also behaves like Yu. Kaoru also has a dark side of his life that is untold.

My review:
The director has chosen a very interesting approach to this unusually sensitive topic of suicide and homosexuality, he chose 4 young female actresses to play the 4 male teenagers. Is it because that makes it easier for the audience to accept a story on homesexuality or is it a liberate twist that is so obvious. Could it be because of the sensitive emotional issues that the director is trying to communicate can only be expressed by the softer and more caring gender of the human species. Despite this gender confusion, I found I could focus on the delicate relationships between each pair of the characters in the movie.

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