Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Notable Cast: Rei Hirano, Ryo Sato, Mikio Tayama, Ayako Ito
Intimacies is a 4-hour multimedia docufiction journey through the creation and delivery of a stage play called 'Intimacies'. As a person who enjoys lengthy, slow-moving films, I assumed this would be an easy sit for me. Admittedly, I felt the discomfort the characters felt during some of these meetings leading up to their performance while watching the film unfold. It really felt like it was dragging its feet at times, even though I got the point and intention behind it. I know, for a fact, that Hamaguchi masters this exact concept and feeling with Drive My Car, nearly a decade later, but this definitely acts as a prototypal piece to that staggering work.
Here the experimental element is what sets it apart. That may appeal to a certain type of filmgoer, but for me, it just fell apart at times. While you certainly get very familiar with characters and spend a lot of time with them, by the end some of them felt just as distanced as they were to me in the beginning, but again, that very well may be the point. I do think the standout characters, however, will stick with me for some time to come, including the leading couple that creates the play themselves. Their arc is so satisfying, but in ways, I wish to keep a secret for whichever curious reader may not yet know themselves.
Hamaguchi's style is certainly present here presented in a more lo-fi way here. I feel like this was a workshop film, although I could be wrong about that. The film switches between many qualities of cameras and incorporates slides similar to the silent film era that show the characters’ text messages back and forth to one another throughout. I liked the different textures that the various cameras provide in Intimacies and it gives the film a very handmade feeling, a reminder that not all cinema feels like it is put through a machine and rather that each and every one of us is capable of getting out there and making our filmic dreams a reality.
In the end, Intimacies was a mixed experience for me. Sometimes I was completely enamored by what was on screen, and at others, I would find myself really wishing I was nearing the journey's end. With that said, when the ending finally did get to me, I was blown away and moved to tears. It's a very sentimental ending that is beautifully crafted and extremely heartfelt which felt earned by that point. It is, honestly, one of the best endings to any film I've ever seen, and even if the work getting there was daunting at times, the reward was oh so great. Hamaguchi fans should seek this out, but others may want to approach it with caution. The film is certainly not without merit and still comes recommended.