Written and Directed by Takehiro Nakajima
Released April 2, 1993
Review by Stephen O. Murray
August 14, 1993.
The most telling and painful scene in Okoge (1992, directed by screenwriter Nakajima Takehiro) is when Goh (Takehiro Murata) tells his brother in the presence of his mother and his brother’s wife that’s he not going to get married because he’s a “homo” (the word I heard is variously translated in the subtitles). After a moment of stunned silence they ignore that he said anything. Talk about obliteration!
Goh is another dutiful stoic-to-the-vicinity-of affectless Asian son (although he does cry once and acknowledges depression to the okogé). His older lover, Toch (Nakahara Takeo), is forced to return to the marital and work fold (and eventually loses his places there, too).
Goh says that “one-way love” is okay for him. Because of his mother’s hysteria the okoge, The word “okoge) means the crust of rice sticking to the bottom of the pan; it is a euphemism for “fag hag.” Sayoko (Shimizu Misa), is more-or-less raped by the man she is trying to fix up with him, and eventually Goh takes her in and is raising the son they produced at the end. I noticed that in the last scene she is wearing yellow (his color until then) and he red (hers until then).
This is one of the few mainstream films about gay men from anywhere in which sexual behavior is clear (Tochi fellates and then fucks Goh). The scantily-dressed and totally undressed men at the beach in the first scene take my breath away, and the lovemaking is sensuous.
Certainly it shows the oppression men who want to love each other face in Japan. It also makes realer to me the young Japanese women who make androgynous male-male romance comic books (bishonen) popular. Sayoko is not a lesbian, would perhaps like to be a gay man, and gets the kind of sympathetic wife with domestic skills she needs, once Goh rescues her from the man he (not she) was attracted to.
P.S.—26 December 1997
I confirmed that, despite the range of nouns Donald Richie’s subtitles use, self-references and most other references in “Okogé” are homo. I listened again for gay, but didn’t hear it. There were some other derogatory terms. While not graphic, the bedroom scenes make it clear that Goh gets fucked. None of the Princeton rubbing of most American films when men have sex with men…. Goh remains sympathetic on a third viewing, and I still don’t think that yellow is the color for him…
©1993, 2016, Stephen O. Murray
Written 14 August 1993, later posted on epinions
See also my listing of my favorite gay films from the 20th century not made in the U.S.
|⇑1||The word “okoge) means the crust of rice sticking to the bottom of the pan; it is a euphemism for “fag hag.”|