A Snake of June (Rokugatsu no hebi)

Rinko is a pretty yet reserved crisis hotline counselor. Of course, behind her somewhat dorky glasses and conservative dress is a siren waiting to explode. But it ain’t going to happen with her husband Shigehiko, a somewhat doughy man quite a bit her senior, that is more enthusiastic about scrubbing the bathtub than giving Rinko any lovin’.

Genre(s): Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Actors: Asuka Kurosawa, Yûji Kôtari, Shin'ya Tsukamoto

Year: 2002

MPAA Rating: R

Country: United States

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Little does Rinko know that she has a secret admirer… nay, a stalker. A mysterious envelope, addressed only to Rinko, arrives in the mail with scandalous, voyeuristic photos of Rinko, um, making herself comfortable. A phone in the envelope rings, and a man tells Rinko that he has a few things he wants her to do…

Now, the lure of an encouraging, faceless stranger ordering you to cut off your skirt up to your nether regions, wear no underwear, and go into a sex shop to buy a vibrator for the first time may turn you on. I mean, at this point A Snake of June is kind of kinky-sexy. With the stark, blue-tinged black and white cinematography that is constantly drenched in water and monsoon rain, the movie is really very cool and stunning-looking. The film still had me here.

But as the perspective of the obsession is turned on its head—first through the repressed husband’s eyes, then the stalker’s—Snake becomes more than a little baffling. Corsets, an industrial snake-like penis, cone-head blinders on a roomful of men, a man beaten in his underwear with motor oil poured all over him… well, yes, these images are striking to look at, but… uh… ummm… Oh! Rinko is flipping out, peeling her clothes off in the rain and working the remote control of her vibrator. Well, now. Uh… what?

A Snake of June is not quite as erotic as its cover promises. Kinky in places? Yes. Hot in a voyeuristic, public humiliation way? Yes. Thought-provoking in the sexual-power issues it introduces? A bit. Baffling in a twisted, incomprehensible Japanese art-house way? Indeed. The images in the film will stick in your head, as will a few of the scenes involving the rather striking actress Asuka Kurosawa. But I will bet that, except for the highly-tolerant, A Snake of June will leave most viewers scratching their heads, and the rest scrambling for their remote controls (for their TVs, not their vibrators).

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