Directed by Teruo Ishii
Written by Teruo Ishii
Cast: Yôko Mihara, Teruo Yoshida, Mako Sanjô, Junko Ikeuchi, and Toshio Hosokawa
A young journalist whose fiance unbeknownst to him moonlights as an escort is killed. Then, he is framed for the murder. Now, he must team up with a feisty pickpocket to clear up his name and find the truth.
A film noir made after the year, or so the French New Wave had made its splash. Sexy Line is very much a film made in the spirit of the French New Wave. It also values female sensuality in the manner of a high-class erotic thriller. Sexy Line’s overt sensuality might be its greatest artistic merit. Actually, even a perverted form of artistry does exist in the film. The whole evil conspiracy depends on this perverted form of artistry. And, that’s only if prostitution could ever be artistic. Sexy Line’s fun sensuality that exists from the actual mystery to the interactions itself. Before you get too excited, but I should mention there is no actual nudity in the film. The treatment of sex here is in the realm of playful nonchalance. All this sensational eroticism is alluring. Despite, sex getting mentioned endless times, yet manages to remains always implied.
Hiroshi Yoshioka is rather a curious protagonist. On the surface, Hiroshi looks like a typical stoic protagonist of a film noir. This assumption proves more and more false as the movie goes on; Hiroshi’s stoic face is more of a sign for his cluelessness. Hiroshi isn’t a total idiot, but he is rather oblivious to the world around him sometimes. I supposed it was always there considering Hiroshi wasn’t aware of his fiance’s double life. What’s more amusing, is that as Hiroshi’s cluelessness becomes more apparent. Hiroshi’s role in the narrative changes as he goes from a supposed hero to a clumsy sidekick.
Mayumi is the sly and feisty pickpocket of the story. Mayumi is enticing not only in body, but her wit is no less enticing. Mayumi is usually in control of the situation she is in. The moments she isn’t are the most suspenseful. Mayumi is conceited, but it isn’t to the point of annoyance, and she’s rather caring in her own conceited way. The most amazing thing about Mayumi is that she undercuts our expectations to be the hero of the story. Without Mayumi, Hiroshi would just wander aimlessly. Funny enough, it’s Mayumi who does much of the work to unravel the mystery. It’s an interesting role reversal as it’s Hiroshi who is the true ”damsel in distress”.
The humor like Mayumi herself keeps undercutting our expectations. It’s a fun exercise in creating false expectations to play off them and lampooning a few tropes. This style of comedy is reflected in the French New Wave-inspired editing. The cuts happen in the most unexpected places. The humor doesn’t stop during even serious situations. It’s not exactly swashbuckling, but it’s close enough to move way from the typical downbeat tone of a film noir.
Sexy Line is a fun offbeat voyeuristic film noir that makes light of a serious subject matter for a fun adventure.