A female phone counselor, Rinko, is being contacted by a man who has pictures of her from her erotic modeling days, something her husband doesn't know anything about. In the same mail as the pictures of her, she is also sent a cell phone. Through the cell phone she is given instructions on weird things she has to act out in public to prevent him from spreading the photos to her husband. This starts a cycle of a long erotic nightmare for both Rinko and her husband.
We all know and love "Tetsuo". I've been a fan of that movie for such a long time, and I actually remember the first day I saw it. I was laying in the couch not really knowing at all what I was about to watch. I certainly didn't expect that I would watch the movie three times in a row that night. Later the same night, I ordered myself a copy of the film along with the second part. For many years, these two were the only films by Shinya Tsukamoto I had seen. Now and then I got curious about his other stuff but never felt like spending the money to find out what he had done more than "Tetsuo". Luckily, Preston (yes, from this site) being the good man as he is, recommended Shinya's newer horror movie "Nightmare Detective" after watching it, and needless to say it sounded extremely interesting. Of course I ordered it once I got money for it. A few days later I got the copy in my hand and watched it the same day. I now realized that Shinya Tsukamoto was in fact a great filmmaker, and "Tetsuo" really wasn't a lucky shot in his career (not that I ever thought it was. Even though I never got as into "Tetsuo 2". Might be because I expected it to be more than just a spiritual sequel), and I just knew I had to get another film of his. "A Snake of June" was the next in line. Erotic drama with surrealistic elements sounded like it would be my cup of tea. I never really read too much into it before watching it because I had so far seen three different sides of Tsukamoto and I understood that he would end up surprising me either way, so I might as well go into it blind.
Admittedly, I expected it to be more surreal. And this has nothing to do with past movies of his I've seen, but because "surrealistic" was often thrown around when people mentioned the movie. And yes, it is still a bit surreal, but the story feels very real. It takes places in a Japanese city and revolves around Rinko and her husband Shigehiko. Rinko works at a suicide hotline kind of place, and one day she receives photos from her past life, erotic photos that she doesn't want her husband to find out about. The person who mailed her the photos also sent a phone that he can contact her through, so he can instruct her into doing wild things in public. We soon find out more and more about Rinko, the husband and the caller, and the tales takes a few turns, ultimately going towards the husband, who also gets terrorized by the caller after he gives his wife something that the caller considers bad advice. There is no turning into metal here, and it's not total chaos. This is a different cake altogether and it had me hooked in a completely opposite way than "Tetsuo" did. Here it was all about Shinya's way to narrate a realistic dark erotic thriller.
But don't fear, this is not your typical thriller either. First of all the movie is all tinted into blue colors rather than just being black and white, and it wouldn't be Shinya Tsukamoto if the movie didn't have impressive cinematography. There is no doubt that Shinya is a master at what he does, he knows exactly how to make small things important and how to make colors and angles tell parts of the story that is being told. If he wants you to feel like you are in hell, that's what it will look like on the screen.
Don't get hung up on the "erotic" part, since the film isn't really graphic in that way, so if you feel you want to watch this with anyone, feel free to. Eroticism is all over the movie, but done right so it doesn't leave you feeling dirty for watching it. Not that I mind that, but it might be good to know exactly what you are getting into. Although there is a slight surreal and perverse scene towards the end that will bring some thoughts back to the drill from "Tetsuo", there isn't much smut in this one at all. A couple of nude shots, sure, but that's about it.
"A Snake of June" should be watched by people who enjoy artistic quality to their mysteries and don't mind a perverse story. Fans of Shinya Tsukamoto's other movies should be pleased if they go into it knowing that it's not another "Tetsuo" (of course, people who have seen even more of his work than I have so far will know that he has a variety of styles). I was left highly satisfied with this erotic thriller, and the story felt alot more real and intriguing than I initually expected out of it. Overall it's a really good psychological movie.