A Snake of June (2002)
A Snake of June (2002)

Genre: Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 17 min.

Release Date: December 7th, 2002 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Shin’ya Tsukamoto Actors: Asuka Kurosawa, Yuji Koutari, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Hira Dezu, Yukino Asai

 


 

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ust as brilliantly twisted as “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” (1989), but with slightly less hyperkinetic verve, Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s “A Snake of June” explores familiar themes of repressed sexuality and contrasting worlds. With its wane of seizure-inducing pacing and editing, the film also manages a far more linear plotline. Nevertheless, metallic phallus imagery and wild psychosexual encounters still work their way into the haunting frames.

When suicide hotline counselor Rinko Tatsumi (Asuka Kurosawa) receives explicit photos of herself from a mysterious caller, she is thrown into a depraved game of buried fantasies and unrestrained carnal desires. As the voyeuristic stalker becomes transfixed on altering her passionless life, Rinko’s compulsively clean husband Shigehiko (Yuji Koutari) attempts to hunt the culprit down. Inevitably, the three disillusioned souls will cross paths, leading to unnerving revelations.

Tsukamoto’s visual style is unmistakably daring in all his works, and “A Snake of June” is no exception. Bathed in blue to suggest the unrelenting presence of water, the images are painstakingly crafted to be both bold and unrelentingly bizarre. Close-ups of snails, drains, and circular windows mix with frantic shots of action as nightmarishly surreal dreams pepper the nearly indistinguishable reality.

Far more comprehensible than some of the director’s previous efforts, “A Snake of June” still boasts plenty of hallucinatory snapshots to comprehend, most memorably with a sex show dream sequence that accents the notions of voyeurism and the opposition of viewing the organic through exacting geometry. Frenetic editing and dizzying camerawork similarly strive to keep this thriller from ever slowing down; during extended single shots on a stationary subject, the camera refuses to stay put, heightening the sense of unease and paranoia. Even in the chapter breaks Tsukamoto’s maddening artistry is at work as curious symbols denote the passing of time and the gradual joining of figures.

To match the delirious visuals is a fantastically diverse array of sound effects and music from composer Chu Ishikawa. Unending rain echoes in every scene while foreboding strings shift the mood from morose to morbid, yet there’s always a calming satisfaction from the subtle violins. Percussive, tribalistic music, heavy with the sounds of clanging metal, further enhances the tense moments of violence, flip-flopping with operatic tones that waft through the more surrealistic segments.

With a disturbing vision of delirium reminiscent of David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” (but with more meaningful parallels and less unexplained randomness), “A Snake of June” is a striking examination of unmasked temptations and suppressed passion – seen through the distortive looking glass of a cinematic genius. Tsukamoto again proves he is a master of the phantasmagoric, holding his own (if not surpassing) his American counterparts in both style and presentation. Sadly, “A Snake of June” is still something of an obscurity outside of Japan, as Tsukamoto’s “Tetsuo” series continues to dominate his influence on Hollywood.

– Joel Massie

  • 8/10