James Reviews Yoshimasa Ishibashi’s Milocrorze: A Love Story [Fantastic Fest 2011 Review]

Director Yoshimasa Ishibashi (of The Fuccons TV series fame) brings us a fever dream of colors, self help, violence, love, pain, destruction, revenge and slow motion action that is a behold to watch and not easily forgotten. But does it live up to the hype of style over substance or does it fall flat on its pretty head?

Milocrorze: A Love Story (Mirokurôze) is three stories in one; the bookends dealing with 7 year old Ovreneli Vreneligare and his laid back life going to and from work at the office. Did I mention it’s on another planet? He instantly falls in love with ageless Milocrorze, who lives with him for a bit and then one day is with another man and leaves Ovreneli. This is the beginning of the running theme throughout the movie, which is obsessive love and how people deal with it. He grows up to be the heartbroken Takayuki Yamada (with a ridiculous bowl haircut), being in this film with 3 distinctly different roles, both Gantz films, 13 Assassins, The Seaside Motel and Vengeance Can Wait. So as you can see, he’s a major presence and we’re that much luckier because of it.

We then are met by the amazingly ‘˜in your face’ relationship coach (again, played by Yamada) which will make you laugh out loud when he just pops up in everyone’s life who calls them. He’s not nice at all and hates it when people whine about not finding love so he screams at them and gives them a surefire way to get the love they seek. Which then follows with him screaming and then dancing with two beautiful women. It’s as if you’re watching an insane music video with a late swinging 1960’²s twist. It’s intoxicating and comes and goes before you can get worn down by the character, which is a great touch by Ishibashi.

Starting with a bit of vehicular manslaughter is what the brunt of the film is made of and is my favorite part of the film. Tamon (Yamada) falls in love with the sweet Yuri (Ann Ishibashi) and saves her from her abusive monstrous boyfriend. Love is bright with the both of them and as they ride away into the sunset they are attacked and Yuri is captured. What follows is a lone ronin in search of his one and only and he becomes proficient with the sword. And in what hands down is one of the great slow motion action scenes put to film and something Zack Snyder could learn from. Taking influences from Japanese art, American action films, Kurosawa and music videos, this is the culmination of Ishibashi’s style and has me interested in anything he does for now on.

The film is a plethora of styles and genres, mixed together to give us this crazy story of love, obsession and how people cope with the journey to gain and ultimately the loss of it. It’s a daring film that is definitely style over substance, which usually would be a negative for me but in this case it works to it’s strength. The bookends are the parts I was least connected with, while the meat of the story between the counselor and following with Tamon’s epic journey is one that you will want to see.

I saw this film a few months ago at the NYAFF/Japan Cuts Festivals back in New York City and really had a blast with it then. With this festival, though, the crowd was much more receptive, really getting into the film completely and loving every minute of it. There’s something about the Austin crowd where it opened up other scenes in a different way for me the second time around. I enjoyed it much more this time around, which means repeat viewings are suggested. Especially for that samurai epic within the film. A blast to view in any form.