arden’s review published on Letterboxd:
Two different forms of media aren't supposed to be compared, but as someone who's read and enjoyed the manga written by a woman, Chin Nakamura, it's disappointing how this film was adapted (by a male director known for creating pink films) for the screen. Unlike the manga that places the reader immediately in the heat of the situation, the pace of the film is abrupt. Starting with a graphic murder but transitioning into a light, coming-of-age type mood. I can't begin to explain how inconsistent the continuity of the film is, the story just doesn't seem coherent with its original material. There's a lack of context in several scenes, flashbacks aren't well executed, and supporting characters aren't as memorable as they were in the manga.
The two characters in the manga have a complex relationship with each other; they both care for and loathe each other. They're transparent and raw in expressing their sentiment or spite, a dynamic that was completely absent in this butchered version of the characters. These are different characters that just feel empty and do not have apparent motivations and reservations. It's a mutually toxic relationship that was watered down in this film. This was supposed to be about a sapphic willing to commit a crime for their long-term heterosexual crush who feels nothing towards her. Not even Kiko Mizuhara, whose performance was very decent considering her filmography isn't very impressive, can save this film from its horrible writing and directing. Nothing but 2 hours of a dragging storyline without a sense of where it's heading or anything of interest.
If you're going to adapt a film about a complex relationship between two women, as a cisgender male, at least do it in a way that doesn't feed off of oversexualizing your actresses. Albeit the source material being graphic and sexual in nature, the way this director portrayed it was horrible. It was difficult to watch those scenes whenever they came up, it felt awkward and intrusive. It is as male gaze-y as you'd expect it to be. Instead of creating a film centered on the consequences of a murder and a fleeting, one-sided tryst, the director chose to portray an abrupt sexual relationship in two characters who have no depth and don't relate to the supporting characters, who were critical in the manga, at all. No yearning, pining or denial here. Just straight up "Thank you for murdering my husband we can fuck now." God, this film was so fucking bad. I write all this out of disgust knowing how they wasted what could have been a great performance for Kiko Mizuhara and Honami Sato. Read the manga Gunjou instead and hope that someday a female director can properly adapt it with a better narrtive. May we never talk about this film ever again.
ps kiko mizuhara girl i love you but fire your agent