“You’re too precocious”!
A teenager already well-versed in the ways of sex embarks on a cerebral and physical experiment to find out why she can no longer be satisfied. She and her friends trawl the city in search of a man who will make her feel once more.
Very much part of the Japanese New Wave, this movie is cloaked in that guerrilla style. From the black and white cinematography to trickery with colour and film stock, to the on-the-hoof documentary style footage of early 70’s Japan, and its disaffected youth, Gushing Prayer really wants you to take it seriously. It’s Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac by way of Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, in that desensitisation and depression are two symptoms of the same condition.
If the narrative stuck to those themes alone it would be fine. Instead we’re lumbered with clunky dialogue and overbearing performances that awkwardly tumble through the reinforced negatives of sexual politics and the adolescent’s expectations of adulthood and the roles of men and women. Boorish teenage boys place a monetary value on their female companions, deciding what is best for them and are only concerned with how this all affects them.
The only time Gushing Prayer gets interesting is when it permits Yasuko (Aki Sasaki) to speak up, allowing the audience the chance to listen. She delves into immature fantasy and cannot fully articulate her burgeoning desires which brings up the thought of sex as something experienced by an adolescent Vs the great unknown. The way it is experienced by adults. Obviously, this is something that Yasuko wouldn’t get to know until she got over that threshold, which is at odds with a youth’s race to grow up before they’re ready.
Beyond the fact that he went underground and didn’t make a movie for over thirty years, I didn’t know much of Masao Adachi or his work as a director. After sitting through his 1971 movie, Gushing Prayer: A 15-year Old Prostitute, I wish I knew less. There are some visually interesting elements to Gushing Prayer but the characters are borderline insufferable and their plight has been better documented in other movies.
Gushing Prayer: A 15-year Old Prostitute is available now through Third Window Films
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