“Slight Fever of a 20 Year Old”
Style and Strength
It is always interesting to look at foreign film and the way it handles gay issues. This Japanese film, “Slight Fever of a 20 Year Old” is about two students who want to make extra money as hustlers. Filmed very slowly with long camera shots from a single perspective, all of the focus is on the actors and the small details of the things they do. In one scene one of the boys who is secretly in love with the other one lies on the roof of a school building, doing nothing but looking at the photograph of his friend which he stole from their pimp. His girlfriend just hangs around, very bored with the situation. This kind of boredom is not unique as all of the youth in the film seem to suffer from it. They have no direction in life and harbor no ambition and are very much not in touch with their own feelings. The two boys have no idea of how to deal with their emotions which, of course, does not give any great hope for happiness for either or for both together.
Hashiguchi Ryosuke, the director of the film paints an achingly beautiful portrait of the two Japanese hustlers, their girl friends and the infatuation that Shin (Endo Masashi) has for the other, Tatsuro (Hakamada Yoshihiko). Shin is the more feminine of the two while Tatsuro is the more successful rent boy.
There is a dinner scene which amuses but by and large there is only serious drama here.
The story is full of twists and turns based on the ideas that the characters remain strong even when vulnerable. The biggest problem the boys have is to overcome self deception.
The movie is, at times, difficult to understand. Some of the issues do not end up in with nice compact solutions and this makes for difficulty in interpretation. The film provides a great deal to think abut and even with its faults it does give us a look into Japan—one which we would not ordinarily get.