Hamaguchi’s feature filmmaking career started with a bang with 2015’s incredible Happy Hour, but his latest is no sophomore slump; rather, it’s full of invention. Asako I & II follows the titular 21-year-old Osaka woman (Erika Karata) who falls in love with the charmingly vacant Baku (Masahiro Higashide). One day, Baku mysteriously vanishes, but when, two years later, Asako meets what appears to be his look-alike in Tokyo, her world is thrown upside-down. Crisply shot and beautifully acted, Asako I & II plays like a strange kind of contemporary ghost story, one in which ghosts of the recent past appear in the most unexpected of ways. “Intoxicating. Hamaguchi’s mastery is making you hang on every moment to see how he undercuts or develops on his thesis. It’s thrilling to try and guess where he’ll take the story next.” —Davey Jenkins, Little White Lies.
Filmography: Happy Hour (2015)
Sponsored by the Consular Office of Japan in Portland