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In the Realm of the Senses
Release Date(s)1976 (April 28, 2009)
Studio(s)Argos Films (Criterion - Spine #466)
Every so often Criterion makes a misstep and its release of In the Realm of the Senses, a Japanese film by Nagisa Oshima, is one of them – an effort that does little more than give foreign film a bad name. A sexually explicit, but pretentious tale of a sexually insatiable woman and the man whose penis she becomes obsessive over, it drags on repetitiously and seemingly interminably until its telegraphed ending mercifully but not prettily puts us out of our misery.
This is the sort of film that critics like to analyze to death trying to justify the images on the screen in the name of art. Beautifully crafted and artfully presented love scenes are worth anyone’s time, but there’s nothing like that here – just self-indulgent film making that soon becomes boring and offensive. The acting is better than that in run-of-the-mill pornographic films and the setting is more beguiling, but those are about the only things that distinguishes In the Realm of the Senses from them.
Criterion’s 1.66:1 Blu-ray image is superb, exhibiting startling clarity and excellent colour fidelity. Flesh tones are particularly notable in the latter respect given there’s so much skin on display. The mono sound in comparison is merely satisfactory. Supplements include audio commentary by film critic Tony Rayns, an interview with the film’s principal actor (Tatsuya Fuji), several archival interviews, some deleted footage, and the U.S. trailer.
- Barrie Maxwell