A Film Review: Mika Ninagawa’s HELTER SKELTER (as wonderfully portrayed by sensational Erika Sawajiri)

A few days ago, we were around Shibuya and saw Parco’s huge advertisement of the ongoing exhibit. It was Erikas newest movie, Helter Skelter (ヘルタースケルター). Apparently, there is an ongoing exhibit of the movie’s actual set at PARCO itself! I think that recreating the actual sets of the movie into an exhibit is a great way to promote a movie. I love the Japanese way of promoting! Really clever.

OH by the way…. If you guys remember the girl from 1 Litre of Tears  / Taiyou no Uta, it’s the same girl.. it’s Erika.

(Hoping it was for free admission though. hahaha I’m so cheap!)

ANYWAY—

I know that this blog entry may surprise some of my readers but I think it’s about time for me  to share more something deep and reflective from time to time. Deep thoughts are good.

I’m really happy that my first Japanese movie  (without subs, etc.) in a Japanese cinema was this film.

I may have not understood it perfectly but I didn’t have so much trouble knowing the gist / moral of the story.

I would say that this isn’t really for the general audience since there were nudity and explicit scenes but how everything was artistically directed..

it’s just commendable. 

Helter Skelter Trailer

 

Caged Butterfly

(Here’s a mix movie review by me and my brother. He was so struck as well! Haha)

Spoiler warning~

 

Helter skelter is a very nice movie in a sense that it reflects about the Japanese society and mirrors it in the silver screen almost perfectly.

It presents a very sensational dilemma encountered by us all in our everday lives. I must admit that I was hit by this bug as well while watching it for around 2 hours full of mind-boggling and pyscho-coaster wild ride. There were many times I couldn’t help but cover my face with both of my hands out of shock during scenes that were straight-forwardly explicit.

Talking about the visuals and the style, it was nicely interpreted by the bitchy style and character of Erika Sawajiri in her fabulous glory apt for her natural character and personality which makes it more appealing and having that “spunk”. If you are deeply into Japanese media, you would easily know that it is only her that is fit for the role as if the movie was made for her to act in it. Remember the “betsuni” comment she gave that turned off the media last 2007…? I guess in some way, Erika must have felt a strong similarity to Ririko’s situation in the movie.

In the movie, Ririko (リリコ )is a super model product of excessive cosmetic surgery fueled by vanity and rocketed by greed. Moreover, she is the alter-ego created by the big boss of the model/talent agency (“Mama”, as she calls her) that houses and invests in her. It was known that she was a copycat and mini me of the lady big boss who is trying to fulfill her dreams mirror-shadow her own self and greediness in the character and image of Ririko. There were issues of the mass media conspiring to cover the reality of the cosmetic surgical clinics and their fatally wrong philosophy into luring girls into the endless spiral of losing themselves rather than helping them improve their lives. This is quite a very difficult position to make especially that business ethics and morality are always mixed in the real world where we are all left to decide and take a bite of our own destinies. But with the wrong mindset, what could have started as good intentions may lead us to losing our capacity to be ourselves in search of peer acceptance, one-way greedy vanity and fame in our own respects which becomes self-defeating in the end.

The major issues dealt and discussed in the movie were about the contemporary fad and rat-race to greater vanity and fame.  Every girl or person out there might be obsessively concerned on how to be at par with those people whom she/he idolizes or viciously follows. Such a sad reality we have now..

I think that in some way, Ririko is alive in all of us. She is that inner being that furiously wants us to be the center of the universe.. to be selfishly wanting or aspiring for things that we tend to equate with happiness. I was happy that the producers and makers of the movie did a great job to answer and match the current phenomenon present in Japan. The beauty / cosmetic industry in Japan wouldn’t be THIS successful if it weren’t for the perception of beauty most of the girls here have (some girls wouldn’t feel confident about themselves if they don’t wear eye make-up, false eyelashes, contact lenses.. etcetera). I believe most young girls in our generation not only those directly being targetted by it in local Japan can equally empathize with that concern that is rhetorically and visually presented in an artsy and comedy manner with a flava the movie as it is. It made me realize that it’s not always the material things that could only bring happiness all the time. Sometimes these things even blind us to see the surface and indefinitely incapacitate us to live in a material and self-defeating worldly existence.

 

Photos from AsianWIKI

I highly recommend everyone to see the movie somehow and to reflect on its message and topics raised in the context. Nontheless, the sets and the naturally Japanese style and approach to cinematic acrobatics arts are highly equally laudable worth everybody’s two precious hours of expectations. For me, it somehow resembles the marketing style and campaign of PARCO group of companies and departments so I really wonder how the connived vested interests in this project are all intertwined and connected. It actually reminded me how the production team of Japanese plays are so keen with every detail design-wise! All in all, it is a very meaningful art movie I would say.

 

Ririko to her sister: “With beauty, you can be strong.”

 

There might be different glasses to interpret the movie  but I love how it cared to remind us the viewers to look more into deeper and essentially find more happiness and contentment with ourselves.

We must not lose ourselves in a tangled-up society that dictates us that we must constantly be worried about our physical beauty. Outer beauty fades away with time (and I believe that negative attitude speeds up the youth) so before that happens and that fact makes us crazy, we must learn how to love ourselves in a healthy and non-obsessive way.

I hope Ririko’s story would give every viewer the same goosebumps I had while watching the movie. I’m sure it would.

 

Happy viewing in advance!

カイラ

6 thoughts on “A Film Review: Mika Ninagawa’s HELTER SKELTER (as wonderfully portrayed by sensational Erika Sawajiri)

  1. oh! wanna watch! I’ve read manga already http://www.mangaupdates.com/series.html?id=3440 and after watching trailer it made me REALLY want to watch this. I’m not the biggest fan of japanese movies (there are few I like though) so it’s always exciting to see something worth my time 😉
    anyway, most important thing is to remember that material goods are mad FOR US. Some ppl forget that and in the end it looks like we’re living for them… sad but true.

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  2. I like Erika but I was worried she wouldn’t be able to get back into acting again because she acted bratty numerous times. I really hope she gets her act together in the future too…and figure out what she really wants to do.
    She’s a great actress! And yep I’ll be watiting for the DVD to be released. :heart:

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  3. I’ve read the manga of Helter Skelter so finding out it released a live action movie seems really intriguing (knowing it’s about a super model gone crazy type of thing going on).

    Looks really promising from the synopsis/ review you gave. 😀

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