Passport Series 2018
Asako I & II (Netemo Sametemo)
After a meet-cute of epic proportions, Asako's (Erika Karata) bad boy boyfriend Baku (Masahiro Higashide) suddenly vanishes. Distraught, Asako moves to Tokyo, where she runs into a salaryman named Ryohei (also Higashide), who looks exactly like Baku. Asako is immediately attracted to Ryohei, even though his personality is the exact opposite of Baku's. Ryohei is dependable, supportive, and boring. With Asako's past, can this budding relationship ever be completely real? Despite the sensational soap opera premise, Asako I & II is rooted in director Ryusuke Hamaguchi's brand of social realism, with a scene-stealing cast playing the two leads' friends and family, an unnerving eye for detail, and a series of fantastically awkward dinner parties. This philosophical tale of memories and the value of settling is adapted from Tomoka Shibasaki's bestselling 2010 novel, Netemo Sametemo.
"Hamaguchi demonstrates a pop-inflected sensibility, and an attention to relationships and narrative developments that wouldn't be out of place in an urban TV melodrama, which may account for why Asako I & II feels so thrillingly open. More than any other [Cannes] competition film thus far, it didn't just resist expectations, but also seemed to keep them from even forming." (Lawrence Garcia, MUBI Notebook)
"It's thrilling to try and guess where [Hamaguchi]'ll take the story next. His young stars serve him perfectly, and if you wanted any more, there's an amazing supporting role from a white cat who monitors these shenanigans with sublime feline indifference." (David Jenkins, Little White Lies)