Ride Or Die On Netflix, A Lesbian Erotic Investigative Road-Trip Thriller, Has A Focusing And A Finishing Problem, Film Companion
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Director: Ryuichi Hiroki
Cast: Kiko Mizuhara, Honami Sato
Based on: Ching Nakamura’s manga series Gunjō
Streaming Platform: Netflix

There’s sex, and as it mounts to orgasm, a murder, and then there’s a flashback to 2 days ago, and within that another flashback to 10 years ago, before circling back to the present to establish reason for murder. The murderer is Rei (Kiko Mizuhara). The murdered is the husband of Rei’s lesbian-lover Tsujimura (Honami Sato). Rei is taking revenge on behalf of her lover, because the husband was abusive. 

The murder itself has the Gone Girl aesthetic of blood cascading from the slit neck of the murdered to the naked body of the murderer, but it isn’t sudden or tense. We see the blade being pulled up, and we see the blade being recoiled before it lunges into the skin. Nothing is unexpected, and the theatricality of the act drowns its suspense or shock. 

Ride Or Die On Netflix, A Lesbian Erotic Investigative Road-Trip Thriller, Has A Focusing And A Finishing Problem, Film Companion

Thereon, it’s a bit of a road-trip film as Rei and Tsujimura travel the Japanese landscape together, a faint investigative thriller with cops on the boot, and simmering in pockets, an erotic escapade. Further flashbacks establish how Rei and Tsujimura were high school lovers. Rei is rich, Tsujimura is poor, and through a convoluted arrangement Rei ends up paying Tsujimura’s school fees. Like a loan, but if Tsujimura is unable to pay it in 5 years, she has to sleep with Rei. 

Nudity comes like forced excuses. After the murder Rei is standing in the bathtub trying to wash off the blood. The camera is steady as Tsujimura enters the restroom to pee in the background. Then, she sheds her clothes and joins Rei in the bathtub, her bruises baring. As blood is flowing down Rei’s body, the blood has clotted underneath Tsujimura’s skin. It’s such a forced interaction that even the possible beauty of it is axed at the altar of sexuality-without-sensuality. 

 

The emotions screech, especially the tears. Every time the characters cry, they howl, and so often it is without context that is just easier to laugh at them than reason with them. The scenes snap-cut, and don’t transition, and so every scene feels stood-up, unable to complete a point it was attempting to make. There is a suddenness to everything  — outbursts, flashbacks, side-characters suddenly being prioritized — but nothing seems to move. If not for the changing Japanese landscape — from the stoic, symmetrical city to the languous, sunny coastline — there would be little to suggest movement in the film.

Ride Or Die On Netflix, A Lesbian Erotic Investigative Road-Trip Thriller, Has A Focusing And A Finishing Problem, Film Companion

The worst offender in this rapscallion is the sheer randomness of it. When there is a knock on the door Tsujimara tells Rei that she called the police. Rei gets mad, and breaks beer bottles around her, screaming that it’s too late, that now they don’t even have time to have sex. I thought I read the subtitle wrong.

When she opens the door it’s a sushi order. Tsujimura later says she just wanted to see how Rei would respond if she did call the police. In turn Rei notes that she broke the bottles so that if it were the police, it could look like Rei kidnapped her, so at least Tsujimura would be free to live her life. It’s supposed to show love, but it is buried under such convoluted ploys explained as quick afterthoughts that it jars. 

The one point that the bloated 2.5 hour movie really drives, to its credit, is how heterosexual sex pales when slotted against queer sex. Rei finally orgasms when she has sex with a woman. The two times she is seen with having sex with men — missionary in the hotel room, anal in the cab — she holds a bored expression, almost tired. The sex is done when the man is done, and that’s that. But with Tsujimara, it is a receptive, you-first-me-next act that really drives the point — a fingering for a fingering will make the whole world wild.

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