A Snake in June

A SNAKE IN JUNE
(ROKUGATSU NO HEBI) 2002

Director: Shunya Tsukamoto

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Actor/director Shinya Tsukamoto plays a voyeuristic stalker who makes threateningly sexual telephone calls to a repressed crisis clinic counsellor (Asuka Kurosawa). He sends her photographs of herself taken at times when she thought she was totally alone.

A Snake in JuneIn the real world it would've been time to call the police immediately, but in the world of erotic fantasy, this would be an opportunity to not take responsibility for one's own desires, as the photographer-stalker begins to increasingly dominate his "victim's" sexual life, humiliation & blackmail "forcing" her to commit acts that she would otherwise only dream about.

The film is too tasteful to be regarded pornographic, but it certainly does qualify as erotica, of a type so psychologically twisted as to simultaneously be a horror thriller. It is shot in gorgeous black & white with a few surrealist sequences that will remind many of David Lynch, though it's really more like East European magic realist cinema, with a soundtrack to match that almost seems gypsy-inspired.

As the woman keeps it a secret from her husband that she is being stalked & controlled by a probable psychopath, she ricochets between her terror of the situation & her own awakening sexuality. Her husband, an obsessive clean-freak who is always scrubbing sink, tub, or toilet, treats her like a nun, & her sexuality begins to frame itself more & more in the direction of the possibility, the probability, that she is being spied on even in her most private moments.

The stalker meanwhile has revealed that he has terminal cancer & won't be around to trouble his victim much longer. His own loneliness & terror becomes increasingly obvious, & in his own sick way, he loves his victim, & is angry that her husband (Yuji Koutari) does not respond to her as a sexual being. So he begins to stalk & torment the husband, & treats him much more brutally than he had the wife.

The gorgeous black & white photography has the effect of removing the events from reality into a more symbolic sphere. In a demented manner, the stalker becomes the woman's defender. To what degree he is Devil or Angel is never certain, but there is definitely something that is as much spiritual as sinister in the stalker's nearly supernatural presence.

These three characters collide in a dizzying world halfway between psychopath thriller & v=voeuristic/exhibitionistic erotic fantasy. It's a film that will disturb & perhaps even anger some viewers as an unpleasant experience. Yet it's a good film, original & psychologically credible in the context of fantasy, justly awarded at the Venice Film Festival & at other international film festivals.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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