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A SNAKE OF JUNE
aka ROKUGATSU NO HEBI
Year: 2002
UK: Metro Tartan Distribution
Cast: Asuka Kurosawa, Yoji Kohtari, Shinya Tsukamoto, Mansaku Fuwa, Tomorowo Taguchi, Susumu Terajima
Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese (English subtitles)
UK: 77 mins
UK Certificate: 18 contains strong sex, violence and language
UK Release Date: 13 June 2003

Synopsis

Rinko Tatsumi (Asuka Kurosawa) is quiet reserved woman in her mid-thirties. She works as a phone counsellor at an emergency phone line at the county mental health centre. She is a very capable counsellor and her husband Shigehiko (Yuji Kohtari) is an important businessman. They have no children.

It is June, the rainy season in Japan. One humid, uncomfortable day, Rinko receives a strange letter in an envelope inscribed: 'Your Husband's Secrets'. Inside she finds photos of herself masturbating. Rinko and Shigehiko live a comfortable and financially secure life, and have a peaceful, quiet marriage. Shigehiko is a workaholic and an obsessively clean person. He spends all his free time cleaning. At times Rinko feels her husband takes his obsessions too far. Nevertheless, she loves him dearly. He does not touch her, however, and because of his neurotic tendencies they do not share a bed. Since the arrival of the strange letter Rinko starts to feel uneasy and anxious. Even though they do not express their feelings toward each other in a carnal way, Rinko is satisfied with their life - thanks largely to her successful career. But her cosy, familiar life is about to come crashing down like a house of cards. Rinko becomes even more anxious when she receives a phone call from the man who sent the photographs.

Surprisingly, the man does not demand money. Instead he demands that she wears a very short mini skirt that barely covers her pants and that she buy a vibrator. At first she rejects the callers weird instructions. However, the man reveals that he already knows that Rinko has been secretly searching the internet to purchase a vibrator. Feeling compelled to obtain the embarrassing photo negative that the caller has of her, Rinko unwillingly complies with the man's demands.

In the mean time, the husband Shigehiko finds one of Rinko's embarrassing photos by chance. From that day on, his peaceful but dull work-oriented life starts to crumble. The man who has been making the demands on Rinko approaches Shigehiko and takes him to a secret club, where he forces him to watch vile and horrible scenes. Shigehiko, who had always thought of himself as a rational man who could control his emotions and urges, now finds his world turned upside down, his loss of control driving him into confusion and loneliness.

Who is the man interfering in the lives Rinko and Shigehiko? Can Rinko and Shigehiko, who have slowly been drifting apart, restore the passionate relationship between husband and wife?

Shinya Tsukamoto's A SNAKE OF JUNE is shot in black and white, like the director's debut work, TETSUO aka THE IRON MAN, the cult film that really established him as one of the foremost filmmakers working in Japan today.



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