Make-up Room (2015)

Based on a stage production, the film takes you behind the scenes at a the filming of a pornographic film. Far from what you might expect, the film is surprisingly emotional and packed with some hilarious moments. We begin with the arrival of Tsuzuki (Aki Morita) who is working on make-up for the film. The day’s shooting will involve several actresses. We pretty much stay with Tsuzuki throughout as the rest of the cast come and go, exiting through the door to set or appearing in the make-up room, these include all the female cast, the director, the runner, director of the agency that is providing one of the girls, and at one point the entire filming crew. There is really not much point in describing a plot as there is not much of one. Through their various scenes and conversations we learn a little about each of the characters and about the job they are doing. The more experiences actresses are joined by a novice, who they take under their wing.

The film really belongs to the cast, comprised of both film, stage and AV actresses. Everybody delivers an amazingly real performance. Aki Morita is fantastic as the make-up artist, who remains calm while there is a great amount of insanity going on around her. She is sort of the stand-in for the audience as she offers somebody for the more eccentric cast to play off. The origins of “Make-up Room” as a stage play are evident in the limited set (comprising of the single room), and the focus on dialogue driven action. There are many laugh out loud moments, such as one actress falling asleep in the chair and having her make-up applied on the floor and the whole film functions well as an elaborate farce, with cast rushing in and out and things becoming more ridiculous as it progresses. Another example is when they are attempting to film and interview and are constantly interrupted by ambulances, helicopters and a man selling hot dogs outside. Director Kei Morikawa, who has had a long career directing adult videos, does a great job with the cast, bringing out the best in their performances.

As well as the humour the film also strives for a serious dramatic edge at times. There is a moving scene when one woman is told that she is not needed for the cover shot for the DVD they are producing, telling Tsuzuki that she is too ugly for any mainstream role. There is also throughout a sort of melancholy, with characters referring to their struggles finding work, even the manager of the promotion company complaining that it is an increasingly difficult genre to work in. In its more reflective moments the film is highly effective and deals with some serious issues concerning work, loneliness, career worries, and more, albeit in an unconventional environment. It shows you the pornography industry as just another job, one with all the same worries and problems as any other. Unconventional comedy with occasionally heartfelt messages.