It’s hard to review a dark film like the 2020 Japanese film ‘Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese’, which is an adaptation of a Manga by the same name. The two protagonists are flawed, selfish, twisted and do things that you wouldn’t appreciate in a partner at all. It’s the story of Otomo Kyoichi (Okura Tadayoshi), who is being blackmailed by private investigator Imagase (Narita Ryo), hired by Otomo’s wife to see if he is cheating.
Otomo and Imagase were college classmates and the latter confesses that he has been in love with Otomo for seven years. It’s deliciously ironic that Otomo is forced to have an affair with the private investigator, to conceal his affair. What is striking about this film is how it lacks the usual exaggerations that live-action-adaptations of Manga comics tend to have. ‘The Cornered Mouse Dreams Of Cheese’ is raw, real and gritty, with two almost pitiable characters, that somehow fall in love with each other, even if things don’t start in a romantic way.
While Imagase is reclusive, insecure and almost possessive, Otomo on the other hand is like a lost dog, ready to lap up any affection coming his direction. When his wife finally leaves him, Imagase and Otomo start a strange co-habitation and fall into the rhythm of living together, until some complications come their way.
Director Yukisada Isao captures the solitary lives of working Japanese individuals in an engaging way. The cinematography is simple and adds a desolate mood to the entire story, which is quite fitting. There are a lot of little details that serve to enhance the characteristics of the lead pair. For example, Imagase’s flat is a total mess, one can spot some antique items that indicate great taste, but is reflective of his chaotic personality.
The makers haven’t shied away from showing intimacy on the screen, so there is a decent amount of nudity and sex, deserving the 18+ rating for the film. Overall, it’s a pretty good film for those who are fans of BL manga. If you don’t know what BL means, it’s probably not meant for you.