This will be a short little review, of a short little movie. But boy, what an unexpected treat.
Based on a Manga (of course), “Rinko Eighteen” is the story of Rinko, a young Japanese girl who has it all. She is hard working, has wealthy parents and is well on her way of fulfilling her dream of being a Doctor. The it all goes pear shaped, when her Father’s business goes bankrupt, he disappears, her Mother runs away with her lover, and she not only finds herself homeless, but now unable to go to school. But she is the enterprising type, and desperately tries to find herself a job, but her age, the economy and her lack of experience prove to be major stumbling blocks. Finally, she gets a job at a small AV (Adult Video) production company, where she is initially shocked (and frankly hilariously naive) to find out what they do, but she knuckles down, and is determined to do her best to succeed.
The Elephant in the room first – this is a sweet, heart-warming and funny movie – BUT it is about the adult movie industry. So there is not only a fair amount of naked flesh on show (some breasts and buttocks), but some of the sexual acts are just on the other side of unusual. So not one for the kids, but if you have the tiniest of open minds, you will not find this offensive.
What we have though is a story about someone, who through their own drive and will to succeed, finds herself becoming a success. And not just because she finds herself in an uncomfortable situation, but also in the little things in life, like learning to ride a bike. Her innocence is never something to laugh at, although you will laugh with her. In a film that barely covers an hour, you watch this girl grow and change.
It is low budget stuff, and the acting ranges from the humorous to the awful, but it really does not seem to matter. It is a fun movie, played by people who are obviously having fun. The camerawork is little more than point and shoot, there are no glamorous locations, and even the sex is workmanlike. But that is kind of the point – these are real people doing real jobs. There are those good at their jobs, there are those just getting on with it, there are even those that love what they are doing and believe in it whole-heartedly. You know – just like in real life.
I also liked it because it did not go the obvious route – Rinko is never actually subjected to being part of the films other than as her role as an assistant director (a.k.a. Gopher). And even those that are are dealt with in a human and realistic way – for some this is just a job, and even for the stars, they are painful away that their celebrity is something only fleeting.
Sometimes Japanese movies can appear awfully cold, it is rare they have the fun of a great Hong Kong film, or the gushing romanticism of a Korean one. The one thing they are able to do is talk about sex. Yet this one manages to do that, yes occasionally semi-graphically, but with a heart and warmth that many more expensive, better acted and better constructed films utterly fail to do. Highly Recommended.