Beauty's Exotic Dance: Torture/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
The review on NY Times website calls Beauty’s Exotic Dance: Torture an immoral masterpiece. That is exactly what this concluding part in Noboru Tanaka’s Showa Era trilogy (preceeded by A Woman Called Abe Sada and Watcher in the Attic) is. Each film in the trilogy inspects the themes of obsession and insanity, and this one is the strongest of them. The storyline, based on autobiographical writings by Shuu Ito, is about an artist who finds his inspiration in torture. After his wife leaves him he hooks up with a former prostitute (Junko Miyashita).
Tanaka ignores all the opportunities for cheap shocks and sleaze, and instead plays strong on a psychological level. This makes the film 10 times more powerful than the childish sm fares directors like Konuma and Nishimura keep churning. Tanaka makes every attempt to avoid easy solutions and typical genre twists. There are no caricature characters in this movie. Tanaka was one of the most audio-visually talented Japanese directors of his time and it shows here.
The weakest part of the film is the beginning. Tanaka uses flashbacks to show the past events, while at the same time building the relationship between the main characters in present day. It works but doesn’t have too much emotional effect. This changes after the first 30 minutes when characters have been thorougly introduced and Tanaka can advance to the next phase. He moves the film very slowly, paying great attention to details. There are several scenes with long takes and almost no dialogue at all. Music is only used in key scenes, and even then ir could be a song hummed by one of the characters. The result is hypnotic.
The cast is well chosen. Hatsuo Yamaya is believable as the obsessed artist who is starting to lose his touch of reality. But, more importantly, this is a standout movie for Junko Miyashita. She's already proven before that she’s possesses some acting skills, and here her performance is decent to say at least. The physical requirements of the role are also extreme; she has to lie in snow half naked for long periods and endure icy water in some of the film’s lengthy torture sessions.
Reviewed by HungFist