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With: Sola Aoi, Keita Ohno, Hiroto Kato
Written by: Masashi Yamamoto
Directed by: Masashi Yamamoto
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Japanese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 84
Date: 04/15/2006

Man, Woman and the Wall (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

All About Evesdropping

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Many movies have been built upon the eternal mystique of woman, and it always helps if the woman in question is as enchanting and mysterious as the material calls for. This time, she is. She's Sola Aoi (or sometimes known as "Sora Aoi"), a popular Japanese pinup and porn star, who made her debut as a mainstream actress a few years ago. She's a formidable unique mix of cute and sexy, built like Pamela Anderson, but with a smile like an adorable teddy bear. Best of all, the writer/director Masashi Yamamoto has actually given her a role to play in his new movie, Man, Woman and the Wall, newly released on DVD in the U.S. by TLA Releasing.

She plays Satsuki, a beautiful, but average girl living in an average apartment building. A magazine reporter, Ryo (Keita Ohno), moves in next door and becomes fascinated by the noises he hears coming from her place: bubble baths, sex with her boyfriend and the occasional, frightening obscene phone calls. He installs a traveling microphone along his wall so that he can better hear what's going on. Ryo is so matter-of-fact and methodical about his "peeping" that he becomes rather endearing; he's not unpleasantly obsessed or desperate. (He even casually tells his co-worker about everything he's up to.) In fact, when he and Satsuki eventually meet for a series of platonic dates, their growing friendship is rather sweet. Unfortunately, a blind spot in Ryo's audio setup eventually reveals that someone else has already bugged Satsuki's apartment. Incensed, Ryo devotes his time to figuring out who has intruded, without letting on that he knows anything.

Basically, Man, Woman and the Wall is something akin to a "nudie cutie" from the old days, a softcore male fantasy movie, but a cheerful and spirited one. We know we're supposed to root against Satsuki's boyfriend because he's a lousy lover (he kneads her body parts like bread dough). And director Yamamoto occasionally shows "fantasy" scenes of Ryo inside Satsuki's apartment, imagining the images that might go with what he's hearing. It's silly, of course, but never gets stupid or annoying. Even though she's something of a victim, Satsuki doesn't seem victimized. She appears more or less in control of her destiny and makes her own decisions -- at least as much as she's able to, given that she's not privy to all the information we are. Yamamoto makes nice use of sound and colors, as well as the Japanese cityscape; it's a nice looking film, even if TLA's DVD is on the poor side. (The transfer is full of video noise and fuzzy bits.) Extras include a little featurette, a photo gallery, and a trailer.

Best Buy Co, Inc.