In this altogether delightful triptych of stories, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car) again proves he’s one of contemporary cinema’s most agile dramatists of modern love and obsession. Whether charting the surprise revelation of a blossoming love triangle, a young couple’s revenge plot against an older teacher gone awry, or a case of mistaken romantic identity, Hamaguchi details the sudden reversals, power shifts, and role-playing that define relationships new and old. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is both ironic and tender, a lively and intricately woven work of imagination that questions whether fate or our own vanities decide our destinies.
Hamaguchi has an unusual rehearsal style which sees his actors learn lines by table reading together in flat monotone until the shoot. Then in medium or long shots, often through extended speeches in enclosed spaces, the tiniest emotions take on epic scale. That happens here – to devastatingly lovely effect – in a final ‘episode’ in which two middle aged women connect after at first mistaking each other for high school classmates.