Jun (Fuju Kamio, left) begins faking a relationship with his classmate Sae (Anna Yamada, right) to cover up the fact that he is gay in Shogo Kusano’s 'What She Likes …' | © 2021 'WHAT SHE LIKES…' PRODUCTION COMMITTEE

‘What She Likes …’: LGBTQ drama gets stuck on stereotypes

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Jun (Fuju Kamio) is an attractive high school trainee with a terrible secret: Hes gay, and having an affair with a married male. Kooky classmate Sae (Anna Yamada) has a trick of her own: Shes addicted to BL (young boys love) manga, a homoerotic category targeted at female readers.These 2 things definitely arent the exact same, but theyre dealt with that method in Shogo Kusanos “What She Likes …,” a spectacularly tone-deaf but well-intentioned drama that reveals how far traditional Japanese cinema is still lagging in its depiction of LGBTQ issues.Part of the issue, naturally, is that numerous movies are based on BL manga, an escapist genre thats hardly the finest place to search for practical representations of gay relationships. He pinches it from her and has a couple of chuckles at how implausible the stories are when Jun captures Sae purchasing an usually racy title in a bookshop.

What She Likes … (Kanojo ga Sukina Mono Wa).

Score.
1.5 out of 5.
Run Time.
121 mins.

” Juns sexuality is provided as an unlimited source of shame and self-loathing (the reality that his enthusiast, Makoto, is twice his age does not appear to be worth discussing, though). After Jun gets outed at school, the film inserts a classroom conversation in which his fellow students insist theyre unbiased about such matters, which simply makes it seem like hes the one at fault.An important subplot involving Juns online confidante, known just as Mr. Fahrenheit, gets so garbled, it might most likely have been cut altogether.

Jun (Fuju Kamio) is a good-looking high school student with a dreadful trick: Hes gay, and having an affair with a married man. Kooky classmate Sae (Anna Yamada) has a trick of her own: Shes addicted to BL (boys love) manga, a homoerotic category aimed at female readers.These two things definitely arent the very same, but theyre treated that method in Shogo Kusanos “What She Likes …,” a stunningly tone-deaf but well-intentioned drama that reveals how far mainstream Japanese movie theater is still lagging in its representation of LGBTQ issues.Part of the problem, of course, is that so many films are based on BL manga, an escapist genre thats hardly the finest location to look for reasonable representations of gay relationships. When Jun captures Sae purchasing an usually racy title in a bookshop, he pinches it from her and has a couple of chuckles at how implausible the storylines are.

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Yet “What She Likes …” shares many of the exact same problems as recent BL adjustments such as Isao Yukisadas misfiring “The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese.” Juns sexuality is presented as a limitless source of shame and self-loathing (the fact that his enthusiast, Makoto, is two times his age doesnt appear to be worth pointing out, though). He isnt simply in the closet: Hes still torturing himself with a heteronormative dream of marrying, having kids and passing away surrounded by his family, which is a heck of an aspiration for a 16-year-old. This is what leads Jun to begin dating Sae, despite understanding that his friend, Ryohei (Oshiro Maeda), has a crush on her; as he informs Makoto, in the films wittiest line, he “created” a girlfriend. Naturally, he discovers that faking a relationship is more difficult than expected, however that isnt adequate to disabuse him of his fixation with living a “typical” life.Kamio is completely fine as the films tasteless protagonist, however Yamada– who was far much better in the recent “Unlock Your Heart”– shows herself a highly effective irritant. By far the most intriguing character is Juns alpha male classmate, Ono (Ryota Miura), whos the only person that does not act in a predictable fashion.The ellipsis in the films title was most likely considered more suitable to using the full name of its source novel, by Naoto Asahara, which equates as “What She Loves is Homos, Not Me.” (That slur does, nevertheless, appear consistently in the English subtitles.) Asahara, who is gay, commits much of his Twitter feed to going over the complexities of BL, and Im guessing there was a layer of subtlety in his book thats been lost here.Kusanos screenplay is too compressed to have time to explore the storys themes, and keeps hedging its bets. After Jun gets outed at school, the movie inserts a class discussion in which his fellow students insist theyre unbiased about such matters, which just makes it appear like hes the one at fault.An important subplot including Juns online confidante, understood only as Mr. Fahrenheit, gets so garbled, it could most likely have been cut altogether. That might have remedied the reality that the movie seems to end three times.It concludes, lastly, with the message that individuals should not be defined by their sexuality– having actually spent the previous two hours doing precisely that. Theres virtue signaling going on here, however the signals are all wrong.In line with COVID-19 standards, the federal government is strongly asking for that homeowners and visitors exercise caution if they pick to visit bars, restaurants, music places and other public spaces.

Language.
Japanese.

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