Admit it, you all but forgot about this movie too, didn’t ya!
I know I totally did. I have had this movie for years now and I am sure that there were those waiting for me to talk about it, so I apologize for keeping you all waiting. Unfortunately, there was a good reason for the delays.
The thing is that this movie is mainly in Russian with very few spoken words of Japanese. Yes, I bought this in Japan and thus it has an abundance of hard-subs for every Russian line spoke. And as such, the struggle was real! All I understood of this movie was from visual story reading and nothing else.
If you know how I tackle these things you will know that I was in the deepest of doodoo! I didn’t even want to write about it because really, what is there to write about? How can I talk about a scene which I did not understand the topic of?
Not understanding makes the ending that much more confusing and it is up to everyone to make out what it means. But like I said, it was a slice of life kind of movie, so summaries aren’t that hard. I must resist going in too deep to the point of needing what was being said!
Miyajima Sae plays the title character Laika and Kseniya Altratova plays her roommate/lover interest Yuria in this movie that is about…nothing but simple everyday lower—class life. Yuria names her Laika, after the Soviet Space Dog of the same name that was one of the first animals to go into space in 1957.
Yuria does of course explain why she called her Laika in the movie, but my Russian is absolute zero so of course you won’t be getting nothing from me. I suck majorly at written Japanese too so forget it! Yuria naming her Laika does play into the story later too but again, all went about my head. I just knew it was important.
The film is set in Russia so Laika is the foreigner there, finding it hard to get her life off the ground but so is Yuria, who just can’t seem to crack that dream job of hers. Things do get heated because of this job hunting when one day Laika followed her to one of her auditions and saw her being chummy with one of the interviewers and thought Yuria wanted to pass by cheating with such methods.
This was after Laika had found a pair of condoms under Yuria’s bed but as Yuria explained, it was with a guy before she had met Laika.
Wait, how did I understand that?!
I guess I best talk about the yuri in the movie. One doesn’t need to understand dialogue to know if something is yuri or not, unless we were dealing with subtext only, but even then, body language is enough.
No matter which way you slice it, these two are a young couple. They sleep together, bathe together, eat together, kiss every chance they get and sometimes even do some sexing in the sheets, though for some reason we never see them do the full thing. Which is weird given that nudity wasn’t a problem, and I mean full on nudity! Heck, in one of the scenes I thought we would finally get a sex scene, they did the Handmaiden thing. What thing? Think the time Sook-hee said “How cute!) before she dove in! But we never got anywhere more!
So they were a couple! Yuria was struggling to provide for the two of them as Laika barely knew enough Russian to start making a living, or maybe there was another factor but like I said – language barriers!
But as we all know, when a movie starts with an established relationship, unless it is a reverse chronological timeline, things are always bound to end badly! And indeed, 50% of viewers will think that the ending is a BAD END while the other 50 will think it is a GOOD END.
From what I understood; the optional BAD END came about because Laika was blaming Yuria for something. It was something close to her believing that Yuria did not love her. At the very least she did not think Yuria loved her as much as she did. Because Yuria never even used her name she felt like Yuria was not in interested in her. She felt like she was not seeing her, her true self. There is also the fact that Yuria never actually said it out loud that she loved Laika.
But what is confusing is that from what I was seeing, Yuria really loved Laika. It was in fact Laika that was causing all the problems! She always went against Yuria’s wishes, she is the one that brought a guy in Yuria’s home and had sex with him in their bed, which Yuria caught them in the middle of! Worse still, the guy that she was moisturising was an acquaintance of Yuria’s. It was Laika who was jumping to conclusions and even as Yuria told her she was wrong, she did not believe her.
So really, I was lost as to why the movie and Laika felt the need to put the blame on Yuria. Indeed, even in the end when Laika left, probably to commit suicide, Yuria had to go after her and apologise and shout out loud in public that she loves Laika. It was like she was accepting the blame! Okay, yeah, sure, the situation was dire, and the only good option was to play that role if she ever had a chance to give Laika a reason to live. She had to fix what Laika thought she had broken and do what Laika said she had not done but still…
And speaking of confessions, that is where the other 50 on the GOOD END comes in. All these things Yuria was saying were not to Laika’s face. She was telling them to the Ferris wheel in the park where she believed Laika to be. Apologising for her wrong doing, Explaining to Laika why she called her that instead of her real name, admitting her feelings for Laika in public, if that wasn’t a call for Laika to come back to her and thus a GOOD END, then I don’t know what is.
Sadly, there is the other 50, which comes in because the movie ends right after Yuria’s confession. We don’t get to see what happens. We don’t get enough time to find out if there was no reply or if Laika came out running and into Yuria’s open arms.
A very Japanese ending, eh?
The weird ending aside, make no mistake, this is a yuri movie! Even the fact that Laika fucked a guy in their bed doesn’t change things. These two had great moments together. They obviously made each other happy, no debate about it whatsoever! And what makes this so special is that it has no primary plot to follow. It is simply a movie about these two’s life! Simple everyday life. It will feel boring to some, nay, most but these are the types of movies that I live off of!
Even though I am not going to be posting those caps, I have to warn you before hand though, this is a mature movie! It is not so in the sense of lecherousness but rather, when the girls take a bath, they will take a bath! They won’t be wearing underwear to baths or smoke won’t be miraculously opaque or the camera won’t cut to only their heads or something stupid like that (why show the scene then? Just mention the character is going to take a shower and that’s that!). When they are sexing, they are sexing! There is no mincing here!
So, again, be warned!
That being said, there was a rape scene that was not filmed. Laika just showed up all bloodied and bruised. The message was clear enough though. No need for language skills to understand sin! Well then, if you feel brave enough, carry on towards the end…