Egoist tells the story of two young men with different backgrounds and upbringings who fell in love. Egoist relies on the autobiographical novel of the same name (エゴイスト) by Makoto Takayama. Daishi Matsunaga directs the live-action adaptation.

Tokyo Theaters, its distributor, plans a February 2023 release in Japan. International release via streaming services may follow after.

Introduction | Background

The original is Makoto Takayama’s autobiographical novel “Egoist”, which has sent out many famous columns to the world. Director Daishi Matsunaga, who is known for works that dig deep into people’s hearts, such as “Pieta on the Toilet” and “Hanalei Bay,” creates images with a documentary touch, presenting a sense of intimacy between the characters and the love they share. Delicately conveying the conflict that arises.

The main character Kousuke is played by Ryohei Suzuki, who has brought many characters to life with his stoicism and deep insight. In this work, he pioneered a new frontier with a vivid performance that coexists with strength and fragility. Miyazawa Hio, who continues to appear in topical works, plays the role of Kousuke’s lover, Ryuta. The translucent and ephemeral appearance gives persuasive power to the character of a pure young man who is loved. In addition, Sawako Agawa, who plays Taeko, Ryuta’s mother, plays a key person who influences the main character’s view of life with a natural and overwhelming presence. The touching human drama, which asks everyone about love, received high praise at the Tokyo International Film Festival, which was held prior to its release.

introduction taken for the movie’s official website

Teaser/Trailer

Official Trailer: Egoist | Tokyo Theaters

Synopsis

Kosuke (Ryohei Suzuki) became an orphan at an early age. He knew he was gay yet hide his true self due to the conservative nature of his rural community. Today, Kosuke works for a fashion magazine in Tokyo. As the magazine editor, he has outgrown the sad affair of his childhood and enjoys himself. Enters Ryuta (Hio Miyazawa), a personal trainer who lives with his mother in Tokyo. The two met and falls in love. As they begin to explore their deepening relationship, an event took place that changes the course of their lives.

Cover - Egoist, Japanese gay film
The main cast of ‘Egoist’ (From left): Hio Miyazawa, and Ryohei Suzuki | Tokyo Theaters

Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

If you’ve seen dir. Daishi Matsunaga’s previous films – Pieta in the Toilet, and Hanalei Bay – you know that he employs engaging cinematography and focus on scenes that are dramatic (but never theatrical or hysterical) to drive the point. In Egoist, the spotlight during the first half of the movie is man-to-man sex in all its splendor and intimacy. We also get to know the main characters – what drives them, what they are passionate about, and how ‘honorable’ they appear to be.

Note that this is a movie about two men – one is fantastically rich but lonely and another requires money to take care of his ailing mother. Those facts alone would give away what sort of relationship could have developed. This begs the question: Is it genuine love or is it just a practical solution to solve the issue of loneliness in the name of love?

Yet, dir. Matsunaga never let it cheap. He made the narrative straightforward and as honest as it could be. He never uses emotions to hit the viewers. Instead, he allowed us to become invested in the characters by seeing them with both their positives and negatives.

I watched Ryohei Suzuki’s career since the early 2000s and he’s one of Japan’s best – he was hilarious in Hentai Kamen and lovable in My Love Story, among his many films. His role in Egoist is a complete departure as noted by Schilling in his review. Hio Miyazawa, on the other hand, did HIS already, so another gay character may not be too alien for him.

Heartbreaking, erotic, intimate, and honest in its depiction, Egoist is a movie worth the wait.

Ryohei Suzuki and Hio Miyazawa in Egoist | Tokyo Theaters

Egoist: on Social Media

One of my all-time favorite film critics is Mark Schilling at the Japan Times, with whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for PsychoDrama. His review of Egoist rings true, making me more excited to review it myself. Schilling says:

But casting Kosuke and Ryuta with anything but straight (or perhaps closeted) name actors would have been next to impossible here — Japanese dramatic actors who are out and have name recognition are few and far between (though it’s worth noting that “Egoist” had an “LGBTQ+ inclusive director” on the set).

A star who has often played macho types, Suzuki has stepped out of his comfort zone in “Egoist.” However, he is more deserving of kudos for making his character fully and credibly human. Kosuke may not be perfect, but he’s closer to the angels than to Cruella de Vil.

review of “egoist” by mark schilling, exclusive for the japan times.

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