2023.10.26 [Event Reports]
Popular Actors Tackle Unusual Subject


©2023 TIFF

An appreciative audience of local fans turned out for the October 25 world premiere of Kishi Yoshiyuki’s Competition title (Ab)normal Desire at the 36th Tokyo International Film Festival. Although the director has his own following, based on the success of past work like Double Life and Wilderness, most of the fans were there to see the stars of his newest film: Inagaki Goro, Aragaki Yui and Isomura Hayato. Appearing on stage before the packed screening, the three were joined by costars Sato Kanta and Higashino Ayaka.
Based on a best-selling novel from groundbreaking author Asai Ryo, the film focuses on what the director has called “the alienated, the misfits, the marginalized” in society. Asked why he was attracted to adapting a film from the work, Kishi told the audience, “We live in a world where there’s the majority and then there’s the minority and the minority within the minority. The novel depicts those who have been ostracized from society, and it tackles questions about how we define what is normal. I think it’s very timely.”
As flashbulbs popped, Inagaki, the superstar who was formerly in SMAP and who has now appeared in three Competition films at TIFF (by the window in 2022, Another World in 2018), told the audience, “It’s an extreme honor to be here again. TIFF is a very special place for film lovers. I’m a bit anxious, but happy to be able to show this film to audience members from around the world. I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback after you see it.
“I’ve seen a lot of my costars’ work and I was happy to work with them. We were on set together for only a few days, but it was a great time. You’re going to see them completely embody characters that are different from anything they’ve done before.”
Inagaki was referring to the film’s depiction of characters with an atypical sexual orientation that, while harmless to themselves, has caused some public censure. In (Ab)normal Desire, Inagaki plays a father who’s worried that his young son might be shutting himself off from the rest of the world when he stops going to school. Aragaki is a woman who has a water fetish that she understandably keeps secret. The two meet when she’s called in for questioning during a police investigation, and Inagaki happens to be the public prosecutor. Isomura’s character also has a water fetish, and it has prevented him from fully embracing adulthood.
On working with Inagaki, Aragaki noted, “The one scene we shared was profound and important, and it was wonderful to work with such a pro on creating it together. When I first heard about the film, there was something emotional that really pulled me in. And I had a chance to talk with Mr. Kishi and I felt we saw eye to eye, so I was happy to play the part.”
Inagaki interjected, “Ms. Aragaki does something quite different here. We all have a certain image of her from her previous work in TV, films and commercials, and this is distinct from those.”
Asked about working with Inagaki, Isomura responded, “We didn’t have a lot of scenes together, but there was one in particular that I was really nervous doing, because it was very tense. Mr. Inagaki was intimidating, as he should have been in the scene, but he pulled me into it and really helped me.”
Isomura also commented on working with the director for the second time, after Prior Convictions. “It was a challenging role this time, since we were dealing with a character who has certain sexual deviations,” he said. “It was a hard character to grasp. But the themes are very relevant to the times and I think it may even help some people who see it.”
Sato discussed how he’d gotten his part, as an isolated college student, in an audition. “It was very interesting, because I saw photos of the other cast members when I was auditioning,” he recalled. “So I was very happy to be selected. But the original novel was very shocking to me, and I had just enough time to finish all my preparations before we started principal photography.”
Higashino, who was appearing on stage in support of a film for the first time, said of her character, “Yaeko is a college student with a lot of anxiety and fear. I was really able to emphasize with her because we share a lot of similarities. I had to think deeply about the course she took in life, which was different from my own.” Exhorting the audience to really put themselves in the characters’ shoes, she said, “I would be very thankful if you find something in the film that moves you.”
Before the lights went down, Inagaki told the audience, “This is a film that reminds us how important it is to acknowledge the individuality of each and every one of us. Although the characters are suffering to some extent, I hope the film ultimately touches you deeply.”
Stage Greeting: Competition
(Ab)normal Desire
Guests greeting from the stage: Kishi Yoshiyuki (Director), Inagaki Goro (Actor), Aragaki Yui (Actor), Isomura Hayato (Actor), Sato Kanta (Actor), Higashino Ayaka (Actor)

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