A picture of life in a Samurai compound in the Shogun era as an adrogynous young recruit so inflames the passions of his Shinsengumi comrades that some consider death a small price to pay for his favours. The school's master has to choose whether to intervene.
Set in a Kyoto barracks in the mid-1860s, this brooding insight into military mentality marks the overdue return of a master filmmaker.
Simmering with sexual tension, there's a feel of Billy Budd/Beau Travail about Nagisa Oshima's (he of Realm Of The Senses fame) darkly comic story, but anyone expecting graphic grapplings will be disappointed by Oshima's erotic restraint. This is a film about the passing of the samurai, loyalty, outward appearance and the need for thought before action. Fans of Takeshi Kitano may also be taken aback by his studiously reflective turn. But, it's perfectly in keeping with the director's mesmerising style.
Stunningly shot and beautifully staged with one of composer Ryuichi Sakamotoís most haunting scores since Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence this is Oshima's first film for eight years and, depending on your standpoint, will either leave you thinking him a vac