Friday, January 11, 2013

The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief (2006)

Jake Clennell


With his nonfiction film The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief, neophyte documentarist Jake Clennell probes the contemporary phenomenon of Japanese "host bars" - or upper-crust clubs where wealthy female clients buy the affections of handsome, twentysomething male escorts. As an illustration of this concept, Clennell devotes the entire running time of the film to an exploration of Café Rakkyo, the most lucrative such club in Osaka Japan. The visit yields dispiriting glimpses of self-perpetuated delusions - such as the female client who insists that she can keep spending increasingly exorbitant amounts of money until she "buys" the lifelong love of her favorite host, and the male entertainers who succeed at their job by forcing themselves to take full advantage of a woman's innocence, gullibility and naïveté. Clennell also underscores, with great poignancy, the extreme emotional turmoil taken by this profession on both employees and patrons. Clennell's greatest observed irony is simply the fact that most of the women are, themselves, prostitutes. In the grand tradition of cinema direct Clennell relegates himself to pure observation, carefully refraining from intrusive value judgements or intervention of any kind, and allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions about the participants' onscreen lifestyles.


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