CREDIT: Well Go USA/YouTube Screenshot

Starring: Masataka Kuboto, Nao Omori, Shota Sometani, Sakuro Konishi, Becky, Takahiro Miura

Director: Takashi Miike

Running Time: 108 Minutes

Rating: Unrated, But Very Bloody Violent

Release Date: September 27, 2019 (Limited)

Vroom vroom! Bang pow fist! Slice and dice! Kswish thwack! Huh? Woozzzzy… Just keep moving, just keep moving…

In case you were confused, that opener was me attempting to recreate the series of feelings I witnessed onscreen and experienced myself while watching First Love, the latest from Japanese director Takashi Miike. If you’re familiar with the saying “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” perhaps you’re thinking that I am trying to prove that the same is true when it comes to writing about movies. And that may very well be the truth! There’s a good reason that most movie reviews don’t attempt to capture the feeling of watching the movie. The point is to articulate your reaction in another medium and allow readers a chance to think, “Hey, maybe I’ll have a similar reaction if I see it, too.” But in this case, I didn’t know what else to do, so I let the structure of my review melt away before our very eyes.

Here’s what I could make concrete sense out of First Love: a young boxer named Leo (Masataka Kuboto), who’s struggling to make his way up the sport, comes across Monica (Sakuro Konishi), who’s working as a prostitute to pay off her father’s debt and then finds herself caught up in a drug smuggling scheme. The two of them by chance team up and help each other escape the traps they’re stuck in. Hot on their tails are a motley mix that includes law enforcement, drug peddlers, and assassins. Also, Leo has a deadly brain tumor, the resolution of which is quite brain-rattling. Miike is known for toying around with genre tropes, so I was prepared for an offbeat approach. But for much of the runtime, I couldn’t really make clear-cut sense of what genre, or genre mix, he was riffing on. Eventually, though, that was no big deal. Once every thread was resolved in neat(-ish) order by the end, I knew that I had been on a kooky ride that I was happy to bump along to.

First Love is Recommended If You Like: Being confused while having fun

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Fortune Tellers

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