It’s vital that “A Lady Lacking,” Koji Fukada’s shape-shifting vengeance drama, begins with a go to to a hair salon and a dialogue of faces and familiarity. As a result of solely by paying shut consideration to the lead character’s altering coiffure and wardrobe can we observe the story’s convoluted crescendo of thwarted ardour and unadulterated rage.
There’s one thing somewhat shady about Risa (Mariko Tsutsui), the coolly collected lady who seeks out Kazumichi (Sosuke Ikematsu) for a change of hair shade and extra. As we are going to be taught, Risa was as soon as generally known as Ichiko, a warmly competent nurse with a fiancé and a steady place caring for the grandmother in a pleasant household. A stunning crime, a careless anecdote and a nasty determination will depart Ichiko’s profession and private life in tatters, giving start to a harmful alter ego bent solely on retaliation.
Ignited by a kidnapping that’s not more than a tool, the maddeningly difficult plot — effervescent with revenge sexting and lesbian longing — unfolds in parallel timelines that slide backwards and forwards with out warning or notation. (Within the film’s sole stab at humor, the timelines briefly collide at a zoo as each variations of the lead character ponder an particularly well-endowed rhinoceros.) As he proved in his 2017 drama, “Harmonium,” Fukada excels at unfurling near-hysterical narratives in restrained, typically icily sterile scenes. However whereas the sooner movie pulled us in, this one repels, its cloudy colours and miserable temper making us lengthy for a single second of pleasure.
As a substitute, Risa’s bifurcated character — unhinged stalker and kindly caregiver, perpetrator and sufferer — is depicted with relentless severity. What’s lacking right here is one residing, respiratory lady.
A Lady Lacking
Not rated. In Japanese, with subtitles. Working time: 1 hour 51 minutes. Watch via virtual cinemas.