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Moonlight Whispers (Sasayaki) (1999)
Starring: Kenji Mizuhashi, Tsugumi, Kouta Kusano, Harumi Inoue, Shino Aizawa
Director: Akihiko Shiota
Category: Drama
Studio: Kino Video
100 mins



He wants to be her dog. She wants to see him cry. Love Hurts.

When shy, love-sick Takuya delivers a friend's love note to Satsuki, the pretty and popular fencing partner he secretly adores, the young man is astonished to discover that the girl he thought was unobtainable is just as smitten with him. But as the two teens drift into first love, Satsuki inadvertently plumbs the depths of Takuya's affection. Recoiling at the discovery of a cache of stolen personal items and fetishistic snapshots that her new boyfriend has surreptitiously compiled, heartbroken Satsuki brands Takuya hentai (pervert), and swears to never see him again. As the magnitude of Takuya's boundless obsession and absolute devotion becomes apparent, however, Satsuki begins to see herself through her would-be slave's ardent eyes, trapping the two high school lovers on an out of control see-saw of passion and pain.

Brilliantly photographed by Shohei Imamura's cinematographer Shigeru Komatsubara, (Dr. Akagi, The Eel) Moonlight Whispers's gentle and observant teen love story ultimately "attains a hospitalized lyricism not seen since Cronenberg's Crash" (SF Bay Guardian). First time director Akihiko Shiota, "a natural filmmaker with a gift of atmosphere" (Chicago Tribune), compassionately wrings every last scalding drop of perverse and poignant emotion from Moonlight Whispers without ever stooping to exploitative psychodrama or ghoulish prurience. The winner of the Director's Guild of Japan's New Director's Award for this film, Shiota creates a graceful balancing act, nurturing moments of both urgent honesty and twisted tenderness with measured intelligence. By turns dreamy, fervid, touching and kinky, Moonlight Whispers, declared Time Out New York, "buzzes with a quietly disturbing resonance that will stick with you for days."