2LDK (2002) / Thriller-Drama

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but definitely R for graphic violence and some sexuality
Running Time: 70 min.

Cast: Maho Nonami, Eiko Koike
Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi

Screenplay: Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Review published August 8, 2004

"2LDK" is the abbreviation in Japan for a 2 bedroom apartment, with a living room, dining room and a kitchen.  It's also the title of this engaging, but ultimately disappointing movie about two young roommates whose annoyance and anger with each other quickly escalates into violence and sadism.  This was one of two films (Aragami being the other) based on a personal contest between Japanese directors Yukihiko Tsutsumi and Ryuhei Kitamura, who, according to legend, were drinking and discussing movies at length while in attendance of a film festival in Germany, when they conceived of a challenge for themselves to create a film about a duel to the death, shot with a small cast on a restricted budget in seven days, and set in only one location. 

It's a bit unfair for me to even review this as a film, as it is much more of an experiment.  Taken on its own terms, 2LDK is probably more fascinating for the story behind it than it is as a film, as it is very scant in terms of development.  The story in a nutshell involves the aforementioned two female roommates who are opposites in many ways, except that they are both vying for the same film role, while also having a dalliance with the same man.  Their differences cause them both to feel aggravation at the other, while their competitive natures doesn't allow them to give in to defeat. Its a recipe for disaster, as the two young women go all out to one-up the other, even if it means murder at its most heinous.

Due to a healthy, dark sense of humor, 2LDK flirts with crossing the line of decency on several occasions, but manages to stay just absurd enough to not be taken very seriously.  It should be said that those who are squeamish about blood and acts of sadism would do well to stay away, as the film is little but cruelty for much of the running time, with the ladies using a variety of household objects to beat or impale each other with.  Some of these objects seem far too convenient, such as the chainsaw that just happens to be laying around, and there are several swords available as well.  It's a contrived, and often silly thriller, but on a certain level, it has its moments of humor amid the shock.

Many critics like to take ultra-violent films like this and attribute social significance to it, but I won't really bother, as it would be disingenuous for me to try.  It's really a slowly developing drama, followed by some humorous "Odd Couple" squabbles, a no holds barred brawl, and in the end, and to cap it off, a predictable moment of irony. 

Within the context from which 2LDK was born, it is a successful experimental flick, with two good performances by the stars, and a quality job by Tsutsumi in succeeding despite the restrictions of the project.  However, unless you take the background into consideration, it just doesn't have enough here to really merit a full length feature.  As it stands, strictly for fans of the directors, or just for those who love darkly humorous and violent films that push the boundaries, a la Kill Bill and Battle Royale. 

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo