Snake Of June

Movie Review by Neil Ryan

Starring: Asuka Kurosawa, Yoji Kohtari, Shinya Tsukamoto, Mansaku Fuwa, Tomorowo Taguchi

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

A SNAKE OF JUNE is an often bewildering assault of elliptical narrative and images filmed in monochromatic shades of blue. Themes of communication, repression, and decay permeate the wafer-thin plot concerning an extremely ordered couple that gradually cede control of their relationship to an unknown third party who is, by turns, encouraging and menacing.

Rinko is a timid, affectionate thirtysomething wife living and working in an unnamed Japanese city with her husband Shigehiko – an older man who works long hours and is obsessed with cleanliness. Their relationship is polite and tolerant, but also sterile and mannered: they sleep in separate rooms and as a result Rinko’s increasingly sensual desires remain unfulfilled.

One day Rinko receives an envelope that contains disturbing photographs: covertly taken images of her masturbating. Shortly afterwards the man who sent them makes contact with her by phone and thus a strange cat and mouse relationship develops whereby Rinko is cajoled into sating her suppressed sexual urges. The same anonymous catalyst then turns his attentions to Shigehiko and embroils him in a world of sadistic voyeurism and mental and physical abuse. But will the confusion and torment endured by the couple destroy them or drive them closer together?

With bursts of arresting imagery steeped in surrealism and eroticism that is both implied and explicit A SNAKE OF JUNE certainly succeeds in making an impression on the audience, and repeat viewings would probably assist in deciphering some of the more confusing aspects of the film. However, by the same token, a fair number of viewers may find themselves alienated by director Shinya Tsukamoto’s uncompromising approach for which the most obvious parallel in Western cinema is the more outre work of David Lynch.

3 out of 6 stars

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