She’s Just a Shadow (2019)

Rating: D

Dir: Adam Sherman
Star: Tao Okamoto, Kihiro, Haruka Abe, Kentez Asaka

If Nicolas Winding Refn were to film a Takashi Miike script, with additional dialogue fished out of Quentin Tarantino’s garbage can… Yeah, it might end up like this spectacular and hyper-stylized mess, drenched equally in neon, blood and other body fluids. It takes place in Tokyo, even though everyone speaks English, and is the story of Irene (Okamoto) and Gaven (Tiharo), both workers for organized crime. She’s a pimpstress; he’s an enforcer. Neither are exactly happy with their lot, for one reason or another. In Gaven’s case, he fills the void which is his life, with copious quantities of drugs and meaningless sex. Meanwhile, a serial killer called the Train Track Ripper is kidnapping women, and trying them to the railway, to be run over while he videotapes their deaths and masturbates onto them. As you do.

Rather than a traditional review, I’m going to start by listing ten sample chunks of dialogue from this film. There are times when you sense the makers are trying to be deliberately overblown in the character’s speech. These are not those occasions.

  1. It was kind of confusing how I wound up taking over the black market and sex trade of the whole city.
  2. They’re both Korean prostitutes.
    They’re still girls with feelings.
  3. I’m going to keep her in my basement for so long that she’ll be pregnant by the time she dies.
  4. There’s two kinds of love. Strawberry love and Twinkie love. A Twinkie can sit there for decades and it’ll still be creamy and sweet. A strawberry’s juicy and also sweet, but if you leave it out it’ll rot in just a couple of days.
    Only a prostitute would say that.
  5. Tanya we need you, bring your ass, girl. Bring your titties too – we need ’em both.
  6. If you’re not gonna take me away from this horrible life that we both admittedly hate, will you at least take me to dinner?
  7. You fuckant. You didn’t ever fuck me! You fuckant.
  8. You won’t even bring me a sandwich when I haven’t eaten in days because my best friend might have gotten murdered and I might be next.
  9. If you’re having sex with a prostitute, you become a prostitute. Because sex makes two bodies one flesh.
  10. Will you lick the ice cream off my face?

You will certainly spend more time laughing derisively at the film, rather than with it. It seems Sherman may be aware of the weakness, and tries to compensate with copious quantities of nudity and violence. Except little of it has any impact at all. Save, perhaps the sequence where Irene’s main thug mercilessly beats up a crippled homeless girl, punts her dog clear over the next building, and then gets mown down by a truck as instant karma. I will admit to having genuinely LOL’d there.

However, too much of the rest seems to be fucked-up gaijin wish-fulfillment, created by someone whose knowledge of Japan is entirely based off porn videos. This doesn’t happen often, but I was genuinely embarrassed for the participants, and can only hope they were well-compensated for their troubles.