Review by: Mountain Monkey
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Having read good things about GFP Bunny, I felt slightly disappointed as the closing credits began to roll. The film, which won a Best Picture Award in the 2012 Tokyo International Film Festival, recently screened at the 2013 Japanese Film Festival in Singapore.
While definitely something different, both in terms of style and film-making, GFP Bunny lacked a certain warmth and magnetism. Maybe this was deliberate on the part of director, Yutaka Tsuchiya, as the movie dealt with themes such as disintegrating traditional social structures (between mother and child, teacher and student) and alienation brought about by a media and internet-saturated landscape. Mixing in other elements such as teenage bullying and human advancement via biotechnology, and Tsuchiya has a big plate to serve to the audience.
The plot of GFP Bunny revolves around ‘Thallium Girl’ (played by Yuka Kuramochi) and based on a real-life teenager. The story is helped along by an unseen and omnipresent narrator who gives observations about what’s happening in the movie from the perspective of researcher viewing an experiment in a petri dish.
The observed subject, Thallium Girl, is a highly-intelligent teenager who can read DNA code but completely lacks empathy. She conducts experiments of her own, which she films and shares on her internet video channel. This includes slowly poisoning her mother (played by Makiko Watanabe who appeared in Shion Sono’s Himizu and Love Exposure) and turning her pet goldfish into a mortified purple (animal lovers, beware of distressing scenes). For unknown reasons, Thallium Girl also appears in pornographic pay-per-view internet channels, which her high school teacher (Kanji Furutachi) readily laps up.
With we, the audience, viewing events in the movie through the lens of the unseen narrator, who in turn views Thallium Girl producing her own ‘experiments’ for an audience on the internet, the movie becomes something akin to a Baudrillardian ‘simulation of reality’.
My initial disappointment at the movie was thus perhaps misplaced, as there seems to be many different levels of reality and intertwining themes bubbling below the surface, and which are not immediately obvious.
GFP Bunny is a brave piece of experimental cinema that is both beguiling and challenging — it’s not for the faint of heart and needs to be slowly savored to fully appreciate its nuances.