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  • Benjamin May

Blue Lake Girl (1986) Review

Nagare is a painter who falls in love with Mizue, the wife of his friend Kanji Takigawa. Nagare and Mizue decide to commit suicide together in a nearby lake, though he aborts the attempt mid-way; letting her die alone. Five years later, Takigawa gets married again to a woman named Ameko, who looks exactly like his dead spouse. After he is invited to spend time with the new couple, Nagare is haunted by the ghost of Mizue, who tries to lure him back to the depths of the blue lake.


Directed by Akio Jissôji, 'Blue Lake Girl' is a visually striking, though mediocre T. V. movie based on the novel of the same name by Kyoka Izumi. While the story is suspenseful at times, it is consistently hampered by overly wordy dialogue that verges on the pretentious, as well as serious pacing issues throughout. The film's exploration of grief and loss seems melodramatic- akin to a soap opera- and the tone is all over the place. Though billed as a horror, the flick is much too ponderous and slow-moving to accurately be described as such. Additionally, the latter half of the picture gets to be quite confusing, due to unnecessary twists and turns galore, and the ending is underwhelming.

That said, Jissôji and cinematographer Masao Nakabori do interesting work, making the most of what was clearly a low budget. The film has an assured, dream-like visual style that draws one in and keeps one's attention. Nakabori's muted lighting, and his utilization of color- particularly shades of blue- is arresting; bordering on the hallucinogenic. He shoots the film statically, like a play, which adds to its' strange atmosphere, and his framing and composition is occasionally inspired.


As is the understated set design, which again reminds one of a theatrical production. Sparsely decorated, the sets' obvious artifice adds to the eeriness of the narrative, as the atmospheric work of the sound department does to boot. One must also mention the score from Shigeaki Saegusa, which is highly stirring and appropriately over-the-top; considering the melodrama of the central conceit. Some of his melodies are haunting, and linger in the mind long after the credits have rolled.

'Blue Lake Girl' finds Ryô Tamura starring as Nagare, with Yôko Yamamoto co-starring as Ameko and Mizue and Jin Nakayama as Kanji Takigawa. Tamura plays Nagare as a man stricken down by regret, and his emotive performance is steady and strong. Yamamoto doesn't get the chance to display much emotion, though still does commendable work in two roles many others would have played in a wholly forgettable manner. Nakayama is consistently charming and- though underutilized- comes as a boon to the proceedings in general.


An unnecessarily confusing and melodramatic T. V. movie, 'Blue Lake Girl' is a rather humdrum effort from Akio Jissôji. Visually striking and narratively lacking, the film plods along at a slow pace to an underwhelming conclusion. Though it may be well-acted, it is a bit of a slog to sit through and will surely leave one feeling dissatisfied by the time the credits roll. Though dubbed a horror, it is about as frightening as watching a kitten playing with a ball of wool; and is a great deal less entertaining.

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