Film and TV

R100 Is a Head-Scratching S&M Story Without Nudity

Hitoshi Matsumoto's R100 takes its name from the Japanese rating system, which proceeds thusly: R15, safe for fifteen-year-olds; R18, safe for adults; and now Matsumoto's invented category, which, depending on a centenarian's ticker, could refer to either a calming montage of pigeons or a gonzo sex comedy. If you guessed the latter, you guessed correctly. The film follows a grieving single father (Nao Omori) who hires an S&M service with an unusual contract: For one year, its latex-clad beauties will descend upon the submissive pervert whenever they want, without warning — even if he says stop. They whip him at work, attempt to drown him in park fountains, and beat him in vans. His package includes the Gobble Queen (not as sexy as it sounds), the Saliva Queen (that goes double), and a sushi-hating mistress who smashes his nigiri, much to the chef's chagrin. Matsumoto is only 51 — barely half the required age — which might explain why R100 is unexpectedly restrained. There's no nudity, and during Omori's frequent climaxes, we merely see his pupils dilate and ripples radiate from his face like steam. Even the cinematography is sepia-toned. You'd expect more yucks from the country that bequeathed tentacle porn; the most unnerving thing in the film is a boiling tea kettle that screams for what feels like five minutes. Still, that doesn't stop Matsumoto from periodically halting the story for a framing device in which a roomful of censors evaluate what we've seen. When one gripes about plot holes, which Matsumoto has redefined as an ironic virtue, a defender insists, "The director said people wouldn't understand this film until they're 100 years old." Born in 1915? Clue us in on the subtext of the sexy ninjas.

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Amy Nicholson was chief film critic at LA Weekly from 2013 to 2016. Her work also appeared in the other Voice Media Group publications — the Village Voice, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press, Dallas Observer and OC Weekly. Nicholson’s criticism was recognized by the Los Angeles Press Club and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. Her first book, Tom Cruise: Anatomy of an Actor, was published in 2014 by Cahiers du Cinema.