Directed by past Creative Spotlight interviewee, director Toshiaki Toyoda, carved out a very distinct niche for himself with his first trio of narrative features. Pornostar, Blue Spring and Nine Souls. Following up hard and fast on his disturbing masterpiece, Monsters Club, director Toshiaki Toyoda’s I’m Flash! doesn’t quite have the depth or resonance of his previous effort. In fact it’s pretty much a mess despite some moments of bravura filmmaking. Part gangster story, part send up of charismatic spiritual charlatans and part junket to take an all-star cast to vacation in Okinawa, it starts well enough with a beautifully choreographed car crash deus ex machina that obliquely sets the ball in motion for a pampered tele-spiritualist, Rui (Tatsuya Fujiwara) to hire a trio of bodyguards (Ryuhei Matsuda, Kento Nagayama, Shigetu Nakano) to protect him from further scandal. As the back-story unfolds and the simplistic pyschobably tale progresses under more and more baroque plot twists, the entire endeavor spins into a stasis of undeveloped ideas and pointless connections, albeit in a beautiful beach setting. Word up was that Toyoda had been working for years on what would be his genre film masterpiece with I’m Flash.
I’m Flash is an empty and meaningless film with shallow and uninteresting characters with no personality. The story is boring, the content is very clear, the film is simply lifeless. We never see any of the members of the sect, the only thing we see is three family members who earn good money on this nonsense. I’m Flash is more of an art film than an entertainment film. But to call this an art film with the thin content is insulting enough for real art films, and one should first make partly an art film, one should at least know what the hell you’re doing! He needed a little less flash and a little more substance.
Toyoda has had some crisis of his own since then, legal issues pushing the director into a sort of self imposed exile. Since his return to the big screen Toyoda’s work has been decidedly more introspective, even melancholic when compared to his early pieces but it looks like he’s getting back to his early form. Toyoda, in this work makes use of the music that really leaves a mark right from the start and that fits really well, especially in the action scenes.
Without giving too much of the story, it should at least be said that the final, both for the straddling progression accompanied by a music striking that make a narrative converge three floors, as well as for the use of slow motion during the shooting. Especially for the beautiful images of sea quilted from the speech on the death of the protagonist and the girl alone is worth watching the movie. Fans of Toyoda’s recent work will probably be able to dig for some enjoyment here. However, I ultimately walked away unimpressed.