Man, Woman and The Wall has the uncanny ability to maintain art house themes while blending in pure weird exploitive elements. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Ryo moves in to an apartment and finds that the walls of this apartment are quite thin and he is able to hear the sounds in the apartment next door. Be it when she goes to the restroom, drinks a beer after a hot bath, or makes love to her boyfriend, Ryo listens and often masturbates to the images of his neighbor that float through his mind. In these early scenes, before Ryo actually knows what Satsuki’s room looks like, he pictures it as being ultra girly with tons of stuffed animals and bright colors. Therefore, he is a bit surprised to discover that her room is quite plain.
Just when you think this film might go down the exploit lane, they twist it around and create some relationship building you do not see coming. The woman next door has been played by Aoi Sola is Satsuki, who has been getting threatening phone calls from a stranger. These phone calls cause her to be drawn closer to her boyfriend, who changes from a caring person in to a weirdo and the eavesdropping neighbor Ryo starts having genuine feelings for Satsuki which she slowly starts reciprocating. Japanese cinema seem to look at kinky cinema and perversion in a very different way than us in the West. Ryo’s behavior may seem downright creepy and unsettling to U.S. audiences, but director Yamamoto manages to make his character interesting and likable. I know that this type of film relies on titillation, shock, exploitive sex that leans on an art house theme, but this is where the film falls a little flat. The film is very predictable, while delightful in its simplicity on some aspects, the characters were too average to really make this film a memorable art house affair.
It would be easy to toss this film into a pile of other Japanese softcore porn titles, but there are some instances that makes Man, Woman, and the Wall stand out and that is the subject of voyeurism. It doesn’t much bother with the moral or legal questions surrounding listening to a neighbor. Which could run the risk of satisfying both audiences, or neither. Although unrated, it is safe to say I wouldn’t allow a child to watch this film in my house.
Man, Woman and the Wall is an interesting film that never delivers on its promise. Sure, there are tits, but there’s no conclusion. Ryo never learns to deal with his obsession and actually talk to Satsuki like a person. Not that I am opposed to skin, but to reach wider appeal, this one will need to be cleaned up a bit. The screenplay doesn’t necessarily concern itself with that way of looking at the story. All in all, it is an innocent enough film that I found myself laughing at and enjoying despite all the flaws. Take it for what it is and give this one a watch.