Like Someone in Love easily could be seen as a very confusing film, if you forget what the film’s title is.
Every now and then I search IMDb’s list of movies to find something to watch when I feel like I have seen everything I could have wished to watch. But, I stumbled across this movie, saw the trailer, and gave it a shot. It had a sort of Lost in Translation vibe to it, so I gave it a chance.
Like Someone In Love focuses on three main characters. The first being Akiko (played by Rin Takanashi), who is a college student who does escort work; Noriaki (played by Ryo Kase) who is jealous man-boy who vies for Akiko’s affections; and then Takashi Watanabe (played by Tadashi Okuno) who is an old man who asks for Akiko’s company from her boss/ pimp Hiroshi (played by Denden).
The story for the film deals with Akiko’s life as an escort. At first though, you think it is simply about this young girl dealing with a jealous boyfriend, but as the movie goes on, we realize that Hiroshi, a sort of pimp, is perhaps forcing Akiko into her current profession. But, unlike Akiko’s friend Nagisa (played by Reiko Mori) who seemingly is given to whoever, Akiko is special. Because of this she seemingly has some leeway, but ultimately she belongs to Hiroshi who sends her to be with his former professor Takashi. Upon meeting him, we assume the worst e.g., the pervy old Japanese man who probably buys underwear from vending machines. Luckily though, he seems to be more so the type of old man which wishes for some company and conversation, rather than sex with a 20-something year old. After meeting, he takes on the role of pretending to be her grandfather, thanks to various characters having said assumption. But then, we meet Noriaki, the would-be jealous boyfriend, and with him you realize, as well as when you reflect on the film, why the title of the film is Like Someone In Love.
Now, the film itself is very strange. The reason for this is because you aren’t ever really sure where it is going. Akiko appears and as you get comfortable with her, you think the worst. However, until we meet Noriaki, the film seems very light and sort of sweet. The reason I say this is because Takashi, after you realize he isn’t a perv, you realize is just a sweet old man who wants some company. His wife is gone, daughter is who knows where, and all he has is books and no real human company. So it makes his moments with Akiko sweet, until she decides to try to flirt with him. Another thing I liked was Noriaki’s character, to a point. To be honest, while I find his patriarchy point of view problematic, you had to give it to the actor portraying him. Very much so, the bit he is able to do within the movie made me think of Laurence Fishburn as Ike Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It. But, instead of charm, he gave us genuine vulnerability which is why I called him a man- boy in the character introductions. You can see he really does have feelings for Akiko, but he has feelings for the idea of her, and because he can’t advance to really get to know her, he is unable to deal with his frustrations so he lashes out.
With all that said though, if you just watch the movie and don’t really analyze it, you wonder what was the point of the movie? Before writing this review, I didn’t get this movie at all. However, after going to the IMDb boards and checking some comments, only then you understand what this movie is trying to portray. Before that though, I was wondering what were we necessarily supposed to get out of Akiko’s adventures with this lonely old man? Was he supposed to play faux-grandpa long enough to save her? Make up for her ditching her grandma because she was forced to work? And what of Noriaki? The boy has issues and we aren’t fully sure how in the world those two came together. Was he someone she knew before her profession or during? Much less, the ending is so abrupt that it makes the film feel slightly incomplete.
Overall: Worth Viewing, but No Rush
As a film, I would say off the bat I wouldn’t physically go to the movies or really go out of my way to see this. But, I must admit that I grew to appreciate it once I fully understood the intentions of the movie, and began to appreciate the character portrayals. With that said though, I feel if I need to put a disclaimer or search about to get a movie, perhaps it isn’t worth really recommending. So, while it isn’t a bad movie, even after it being broken down, it doesn’t really stand out in any way to make it worth recommending.