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WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY gets 7/10 This woman’s work


Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Starring Kotone Furukawa, Katsuki Mori, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Fusako Urabe

7/10

Divided up into three stories, each about women’s’ relationships, this is a small and unassuming film, but one with eventual revelations that make the drama so intriguing, as well as revealing our tendency towards fate and make-pretend.

The first story: after Meiko (Kotone Furukawa) hears that her friend is with a new man, she suspects he is her ex-boyfriend/co-worker. She confronts him at the office late at night, in a seemingly endless argument, which continues on (in a fantasy) when the three chance upon each other in a café.

The second story: A failing French translation student gets his married friend-with-benefits Nao (Katsuki Mori) to try and seduce his professor Segawa (Kiyohiko Shibukawa) to cause a scandal. She does this by reading one of the teacher’s own books, and picks a particularly salacious chapter – but the encounter doesn’t go as she planned.

And the last story: Natsuko (Fusako Urabe) bumps into an old classmate of hers, but confusion and complacency cause this reunited relationship to not be what it first appears to be. This is where the ‘fantasy’ element truly takes hold, with these characters acknowledging their confusion and playing along with it, rather than entirely dismissing it.

The moments of fortune and fantasy are intriguing, especially how they build up emotionally and dramatically across from one story to the next, despite no actual narrative connection between them. The acting in each is remarkable, impressive in both the details and the large picture in their emotional bouts.

There’s also a very small underlying sense of humour that can be grasped at, and it especially makes itself known in the second story which puts across a rather flirtatious kind of low-key comedy. But not all the plot-points work, particularly the conclusion to this second story, which involves a fairly obvious mistake contrived so it can reach its conclusion, but it’s unclear where exactly our sympathies should lie.

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is a small film, made to feel less small by its triptych format. But there’s still largeness within it, within the little moments of realisation these characters face, that makes it a spectacle for a restrained drama.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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