Warm Water Under a Red Bridge

If not for the fact that Shohei Imamura has been making films for over forty years, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge would seem like some bizarre Japanese David Lynch movie. It begins as a search for a missing treasure. Yosuke (Koji Yakusho, Cure, Eureka) is out of a job and looking for work. Frequently, he chatted with Taro (Kazuo Kitamura, Darkness in the Light, Amateur Singing Contest), a homeless man. Taro told him of a house he used to live in. He left, but hid a gold Buddha inside pot and hid the pot in the closet. Taro's abrupt death prompts Yosuke to search for the house to see if he can find the Buddha. After all, he has nothing better to do. All he knows is that the house is next to a red bridge in a small fishing village. He quickly locates the house but finds a mysterious woman living in it with her grandmother.

He follows this woman to a store, where he watches her shoplift some cheese. He also notices a large puddle of water by her feet. Once he meets her, this woman, Saeko (Misa Shimizu, Autumn Blossoms, Dr. Akagi) quickly seduces him, whereupon in their act of, uh, congress, she literally erupts like a geyser. Needless to say, Yosuke (and anybody watching) is a little freaked out. However, Imamura (Dr. Akagi, The Eel) plays this off as a joke. Just listen to the score, which sounds like it came from a movie from decades ago. In, most of the movie, adapted by Imamura, Daisuke Tengan (Audition, Dr. Akagi) and Motofumi Tomikawa (The Eel) from Yo Hemni's novel, has a light, comic tone underscored by some shifts into a darker, more somber mood. Saeko says that the water is always in her, slowly building up. When it gets to a bursting point, she needs to do something bad like steal. However, now that Yosuke is around, he offers his "help" to alleviate her of her water. Oh, it's so good being naughty.

Saeko's water has a magical quality to it, and Yosuke quickly becomes addicted to the sensation, almost like it is a drug. As the water pours out of the house, the fish go crazy, which helps all the local fisherman. Yosuke stays in town and works as a fisherman, where he hears small snippets of conversation comparing him to somebody else who used to be around. Plus, Saeko's grandmother doesn't talk and spends all day scribbling fortunes. And there is an African marathon runner training in the city. Imamura ignores the initial story of looking for the Buddha in favor of Yosuke and Saeko's bizarre relationship. Both are using each other for their own purposes, and think they "love" each other, but there is absolutely nothing solid in their relationship.

At two hours, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge is very little movie in a lot of time. Imamura takes his time in telling things, sometimes frustratingly so. Things move at their own pace, and it's pretty leisurely. What is a little frustrating is that it is hard to figure out exactly what is going on in the heads of some of these people. Saeko is sometimes a bit daft, as expected. Yosuke is the more interesting person, and no one can ever get far enough into his head to figure out what he really thinks. However, there is a point to all of this, somewhere, and it's just a matter of waiting for Imamura to get to it. When he finally does, it's amusing, but nothing special.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
2 hours, Japanese with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains some mature situations and minor nudity, a likely R, or a possibly a PG-13.

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