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For Love's Sake - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Ai to Makoto

Japan 2012

Musical, Romance, Drama, Comedy

Takashi Miike

Satoshi Tsumabuki
Emi Takei
Takumi Saito
Ito Ono
Sakura Ando
Tsuyoshi Ihara
Kimiko Yo
Yo Hitoto
Masachika Ichimura
Ken Maeda

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For Love's Sake

Story: Makoto Taiga (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is a ruffian who decides every confrontation in favor of him by using violence. His life has never been easy and thus this was the only way he ever learned. One day Ai Saotome (Emi Takei), the daughter of rich parents, runs into him and tells him that she knows him from childhood days. Taiga isn't interested in the story she has to tell, but she still makes her father take care of Taiga getting a place at an elite school. However, soon enough Taiga has made trouble there as well and he gets expelled, but not without trying to blackmail money from Saotome's parents before that. Taiga ends up at a run-down school where he immediately takes on the right hand, Gum-ko (Sakura Andô), of the ruling school gang. Furthermore, he gets to know the girl Yuki Takahara (Ito Ono), who seems to be out of place at the school and always has a sad look on her face. Even though Taiga constantly gets into trouble Saotome doesn't give up on rescueing her love interest. Naturally to the detriment of her classmate Hiroshi Iwashimizu (Takumi Saito), who doesn't make a secret of having feelings for her. In order to save Taiga, Saotome needs to find the source of his pain.

Review: If there is something you need to respect director Takashi Miike for, regardless of personal taste, it is his ambition to never commit himself to just one movie genre. Miike has already shot everything there is, and at the peak of his art that meant seven movies in one year. His work ethic doesn't have a negative impact on the quality of his movies, though, because during this very productive time he shot some of his best and most controversial movies like "Ichi - The Killer" or "Visitor Q". Even nowadays, despite trips into a more commercial direction as with his "13 Assassins", he proves to have a high level of imagination. Yet, his Bollywood-like adaption of a love story between two students from different social classes has to be considered a less well achieved effort, although it might be more a matter of taste than with his other works.

For Love's Sake - Film Screenshot 11

The most serious flaw of "For Love's Sake" is clearly that the music in the film is little to none motivated by anything. Every now and then the characters just start to sing and dance. Mostly it's Japanese pop songs from the 70s - the movie takes place in 1972 since it is based on the manga "Ai to Makoto" by Ikki Kajiwara - which have been spiced up for a more modern audience, though. The songs are also scattered throughout the movie in a rather uneven manner, especially towards the end you have almost forgotten that this is supposed to be a musical until suddenly another song is played after all. You can't fight but see those scenes as a parody on the musical genre and this surely also was Miike's intention, but this in itself isn't reason enough to attend to this genre.

For Love's Sake - Film Screenshot 12

At first the pictures look extremely colorful. Moreover, the maybe best song of the film is a sweet-as-sugar love song sung by Emi Takei ("Rurouni Kenshin") while prancing around in the summer meadow. Fully conform to Voltaire's "Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung". After that the movie's mood more and more shifts to the melodramatic and more dark. That doesn't mean at all that there isn't a certain comic style layer put on everything, but concerning the atmosphere, especially the run down school building, the movie reminds us of Miike's "Crows Zero", which also didn't really manage to find the right notes for me.

"For Love's Sake" also shares the same kind of action with "Crows Zero". There are many brawls, but this time they are very comic-like which is mostly because of the sound effects and some small special effects. And that's a good thing, because the way it is the action might seem brutal, but at no point it can be taken really serious. Highlight of the movie is Makoto in a brawl with a girls gang and he doesn't show any false mercy facing the "weaker" sex. The blows are heavy, but you nonetheless just have to smile about all of this. For the strange mix of comic and violence Miike in fact deserves some words of praise. Fully neglectable is the well-known love story, though, even the more since it is conveyed in an incredible chaotic way. Probably this is supposed to make it look more complex and melodramatic than it actually is.

For Love's Sake - Film Screenshot 13

To find a thread in the story is something you give up very soon. "For Love's Sake" is mainly sensory overload with an anime sequence thrown in at the beginning and the end for good measure. With all the visual stimuli the characters fall by the wayside, though. They definitely would have deserved some more elaboration. Makoto, played by Satoshi Tsumabuki ("Villain", "Dororo") is mainly withdrawn and violent, but you always believe a reason to be behind this. Yet, the actual resolving proves to be sobering as is the case with the all throughout interesting looking side stories that can't unfold their potential. To just randomly put everything together and then shake thorougly doesn't add up to a good whole. Miike may seldomly stick to genre rules, and that's a good thing, but this time he has simply gone overboard.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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