Review: Films Set In Japan – Stratosphere Girl (2004)

This modern art film is a short 84 minute story (always a good thing in my book!) about an 18 year old blonde girl called Angela who gets into a conversation with a Japanese DJ about going travelling to seek adventure and before you know it she is flying to his home country after he tells her she can get a job working as a hostess. She is portrayed as an imaginative but innocent looking girl who gets involved in a world of deception, crime and illegal foreign workers.

Naturally the plot is very thin but there’s something in there about her being an aspiring artist who for some reason is interested in finding out a lot more about the disappearance of a former hostess named Larissa who is presumed dead. As she digs deeper she discovers that everyone goes quiet and pretends to know nothing when the topic of her disappearance comes up. It follows her time in the Japanese capital via flashes between her drawings and the actual (albeit dreamy) live scenes all told in a non-linear fashion that’s simpler than past films which have used this method of storytelling.

The majority of the story involves a load of these Euro-blondies working in the Tokyo hostess industry and the Japanese men who exploit them in the name of entertaining corporate salarymen. ‘Stratosphere Girl’ shows a character study of these girls and the competitiveness of the industry where Angela’s colleagues are envious of her.

It may be a short film but it could have been a lot shorter were it not padded out with many cutaway shots of Tokyo highways. It’s supposed to be a Tokyo film but, apart from the seedy underworld, it doesn’t really let the viewer discover too much about this unique  developed world city.

Stratosphere Girl‘ builds up quite an interesting plot development only for it too drop off in a surprising but ultimately disappointing, rushed ending. Despite its many shortfalls it has to be said that this movie is consistently interesting and entertaining throughout. It is also visually beautiful and very easy on the eye and I’m not just talking about the many young blonde girls in this film! In fact there is even a line on the end credits stating that ‘no blondes were harmed during the making of this film!’

 

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