Snapshots from IFFR 2021: In ‘Sexual Drive’, orgasm is derived from foodgasm

February 6, 2021 0 Comments


Japanese filmmaker Yoshida Kota uses food as a powerful tool to liberate his characters from their sexually-repressed state

In Yoshida Kota’s Sexual Drive, sex is suggestive. Every small act, small gesture that is normally associated with a sense of smell and taste, has a larger sexual motive. This is coupled by the echoing sounds of the characters slurping, chomping and swallowing their favourite food, that aid Kota in producing a delicious sensual effect. The film does not have explicit sex scenes, but you could say it is a gestural porn.

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Sexual Drive is about the arousal that comes from the aroma — yes, it has a sexual innuendo. A triptych about sex, aphrodisiac food and secret desires forms the core conceit. There are three strands that are separated by the food they desire the most. In the first, we see a designer Enatsu married to a gorgeous-looking nurse Masumi, who has a weakness for Nattu, a traditional fermented soybean dish. Kurita has a weak spot for Mapo, a Chinese tofu, in the second, and the third has Momoka slurping on her favourite “ramen with extra back fat”.

These individual stories do not overlap with each other; the characters do not meet. Yet, the common thread is Kurita, who steps into each of these strands with a box of chestnuts, disrupting their world and teaching them a valuable lesson on sex and sexuality. You could, perhaps, say he is the drive that is causing the sexual tension among the lead characters. Food is not just a metaphor on the primary characters, but a powerful tool that liberates them from their repressive state. The repression comes from a place of loneliness, for, the women of Sexual Drive are either sexually repressed or unsatisfied by their partners, forcing them to derive their pleasure from food. Their romantic urge is replaced by the yearning for food.

Take the case of Masumi, for instance. The film begins with Kurita presenting himself to Enatsu, claiming that he has been having an affair with his wife for over three years. The manner in which this confession arrives catches both Enatsu and us off-guard. We discover more about their affair. Kurita was admitted in the same hospital where Masumi works as a nurse. We learn that Enatsu is asexual and they have not had intercourse in five years. Kurita chances upon leftover Nattu, the food that represents Masumi. He takes a bite, which leaves things to our imagination, and goes on to describe the details of his affair; it is the form of psychological abuse that causes Enatsu to behave violently.

In Akane’s case, Kurita reveals that he went to school with her. And that she bullied him as a kid and that he knows her deep desire. He asks her to run him over in a tantalising fashion, revealing a bit more about Akane’s repressed feeling. She suffers from a panic attack, but when Kurita makes an appearance in her life, it helps her loosen up. In the next scene, we see Akane preparing Mapo in a state of trance.

Kurita is the most interesting character. He is, in a way, a sex god. He is God because he is null, he does not judge people for their sexual preferences. He is God because he fixes things. Take Ikeyama who is having an affair with Momoka. “Ramen with extra back fat” represents Momoka who goes to a dingy place where the only sound you hear is men slurping noodles. She not just derives her pleasure out of the food, but also out of the sweaty odour of the men. The chopped garlic floating in the grotesque-looking ramen come across as a beast in Momoka’s eyes. Each time she feeds on ramen, she tames the beast, which fulfils her desire.

She comes from a lonely place because Ikeyama uses her purely for the physical. Kurita cooks up a story about having met Momoka at the dingy place and having started a steamy affair with her. He arm-twists Ikeyama to have the “ramen with extra back fat”, to make him understand how Momoka feels in their affair. There is a laugh-out-loud scene when she looks at the food and begins to breathe profusely — as if she were caught in the middle of the sexual act.

Yet, Sexual Drive is not a “serious” film. It is hilarious in what it relegates to the background. Yoshida Kota’s vision is wild and mouthwatering. Bon appetit!

Watch this space for more on IFFR.



https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/snapshots-from-iffr-2021-on-sexual-drive/article33767918.ece

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