Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
The oft-filmed life story of Sada Abe -- a courtesan who killed her lover during lovemaking and then cut off her favorite organ as a keepsake -- has been the stuff of legend for over 60 years. In Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1998 adaptation of the same story, he went for a less explicit, more postmodern tact; this film tries to get to the roots of Sada's motives. Born into a poor and lonely childhood during the beginning of the 20th century, Sada (played by television star Hitomi Kuroki) is raped at the age of 14 by a thuggish college student (Masaku Ikeuchi) but saved from further degradation by Okada (Kippei Shina), a mysterious medical student who sports sunglasses and a long black coat. She falls for him, but unfortunately Okada has a dark secret; he has leprosy. Just before he departs from society to go to an asylum, he carves out an imaginary heart from his chest with a scalpel and gives it to Sada. Unable to get over the heartbreak of losing her true love, she becomes a prostitute. At age 29, she becomes the lover of a wealthy civil servant named Tachibana (Bengal) who buys her out of prostitution and apprentices her to a teahouse. There she meets Tatsuzo (Tsurutaro Kataoka), with whom she discovers a passion that she never found in the arms of her thousands of johns. When his wife learns of their tryst, she kicks Sada out. Soon Tatsuzo -- who abandoned his wife -- and Sada are holed up in a dinky apartment as sexual fugitives. Feeling like he has lived all he needs to live, he encourages her to pull the chord across his throat as part of a kinky sex game. This film won the International Film Critics Prize at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival.
extramarital-affair, leper, medical-student, mistress, prostitute/prostitution, rape