A remarkable sophomore feature from one of today’s preeminent auteurs. Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s PASSION, his thesis project at Tokyo University of the Arts, lays the thematic foundations for what would become his internationally renowned body of work. Already trading in his recurrent themes of contemporary alienation and unrequited desire and catalyzing what would become lasting collaborations with actors such as Fusako Urabe, (WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY) PASSION exemplifies the wellspring of Hamaguchi’s rich and nuanced vivisection of relationships in the 21st century. Following a couple, Kaho (Aoba Kawai, also of WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY) and Tomoya (Ryuta Okamoto), whose engagement announcement among friends reveals a prior infidelity, Hamaguchi infuses the pairs subsequent reckoning and devolution with characteristic emotional clarity that culminates in a devastating finale.
- Aoba Kawai
- Fusako Urabe
- Nao Okabe
- Ryuta Okamoto
- Kiyohiko Shibukawa
- "Like certain influential early career films that preceded it — Barry Levinson’s “Diner,” Lawrence Kasdan’s “The Big Chill” — “Passion” has a low-fi, hangout feel, flush with the youthful indie energy and forgivable pretensions of an artist who believes that filmmaking matters. Hamaguchi is still a student but already finding his voice."
- "Hamaguchi’s script offers florid arias of confrontation and self-revelation; in his striking repertoire of visual compositions, including flurries of urgent closeups and thrillingly panoramic long takes, the poised and assertive actors seem to fill not just the screen but the city itself with his prose."
- "Passion already finds Hamaguchi to be a superb orchestrator of moods and tones"
- "“Filmed on celluloid with questionable lighting but a lovely music score, this is a relatively simple and prolonged story supported by dynamic dialogue. It breaks the barrier for film withstanding the test of time.” "
- "The modern cinema is defined by writer-directors whose movies reconsider the relationship between images and spoken language; the prolific young Japanese filmmaker Ryûsuke Hamaguchi...finds original responses to the challenge, as seen in his first feature, “Passion,” from 2008."
- "Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Passion”... is a movie which not only highlights the director’s gift of working with actors, but also his sense of place and time, resulting in a story which is both contemplative and captivating."
- "Love triangles, the shifting fault lines of emotional landscapes, and the ramifications of common cruelty — in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s second feature, 2008’s “Passion," the celebrated director grapples with the themes that would become a constant in his films to come."
- "PASSION is a tribute to Ryûsuke Hamaguchi's talent and filmmaking vision […] a powerful early attempt that hints at his creative potential. Hamaguchi's understanding of human relationships, emotional vulnerability, and storytelling ability has solidified his status as a compelling and influential figure in contemporary cinema."
- "Hamaguchi’s first professional film (following a student remake of Solaris), Passion exhibits the poise and willingness to take risks which have distinguished his career, revealing their full potential in Oscar-winner Drive My Car and the astonishing Asako I & II. Whilst it’s still a little rough around the edges and time has not been kind to the print, it’s a real treat for fans and still a cut above most of the cinematic output of the period…. It’s a stunning work for a filmmaker at the start of his career, and well worth revisiting now."
Awards & Recognition
San Sebastián Film Festival
Karlovy Vary Int'l. Film Festival