(ICA DVD retail)
A bit like Edinburgh’s number 30 bus, Mika Ninagawa’s adaptation of this noted Manga comic series by Moyoco Anno travels an epic, seemingly endless journey, but goes nowhere interesting on the way. The scenery is better though, with photographer Ninagawa’s visual compositions producing one striking, sensual image after another, with red the key colour.
But after a while it’s truly a case of better dead than red, with the story of Kiyoha (model, actress and pop star Anna Tsuchiya) a rebellious child sold off to a brothel, brought up with a cruel hand by the chief courtesan, who acts as an, ahem, concubine harvester. So it is that Kiyoha, crushed by broken love and eventually offered a powerful marriage, becomes a kind of uberhooker in the community. Overplayed symbolism about non-blossoming cherry trees and a lot of er, carping on about goldfish accompany the arduous journey, as do a series of contemporary pop songs, supposedly creating an interesting juxtaposition to the 18th century setting, but this is essentially an empty series of trite women’s magazine truisms disguised as a film of depth.