A chill a minute
The Japanese thriller "Freeze Me" about a manga-like heroine who fights back at her abusers is energetic and satisfying if not deep and psychological.
By JOSHUA TANZER
Chihiro has the life. She's got a good office job in Tokyo, a decent boyfriend a slightly edgy one with a beard who likes to give her a grope in the office when nobody's looking a nice apartment of her own, a fish, a happy smile and good friends. But she has one more thing that's about to catch up with her a past.
Chihiro was raped five years earlier in her hometown, which is what pushed her to move to Tokyo in the first place, and now the strangest thing is happening. A young Elvis-looking guy named Hirokawa shows up at her door, smiling and waving like a wholesome teenager picking up his date. But this is no wholesome teenager : this is one of the three rapists. Soon he's partway through the door and as Chihiro yanks it shut on his arm, he howls in pain and seeming bewilderment, saying, "What's the matter? It's me!"
Somewhere in the middle of this quite terrifying home invasion, Chihiro realizes that fearful submission and humiliation aren't going to get her through this ordeal and starts figuring how to fight back. She turns into what I think of as a manga heroine she may lack a well-drawn personality, but her adorable round face and sexy physique hide a powerhouse waiting to burst out. Although she's hardly a match for the Elvis guy, he never expects what's coming his way.|
But no sooner does she have him safely stashed in the freezer (thus the title) than bad guy number two steps off the train, with the promise of bad guy number three the worst of all, just finishing his five-year prison term soon to come.
"Freeze Me" is a bit light on character, psychology and plot twists it has one idea and it almost writes itself from there. And it feels more like a low-budget horror knockoff than, let's say, "Gaslight." Lastly, the ending just didn't quite sit right with me. Still, the film is full of pathos and energy, and you root for the overmatched Chihiro all the way. Harumi Inoue is transfixing in the role, and the villains are every bit as evil as you'd hope. And unlike a lot of Japanese films of the last few years, this one goes for the macabre more than all-out stomach-churning gore.
|APRIL 26, 2002|
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