Once a successful businessman, Yosuke is now unemployed and penniless. Taro, a friend, tells him about a golden Buddha he hid in an old wooden house overlooking a red bridge on the Noto Peninsula of the Japan Sea. After Taro dies, Yosuke heads off in the hope of finding the treasure and turning his life around, and meets a beautiful woman named Saeko who lives in an old wooden house, just as Taro described. Saeko confides in him that she has a magical spring within her from which water flows when she experiences orgasm.
Yes, the last part you read is true although she doesn’t exactly confide. It’s more along the lines practical demonstration, within the first 5 minutes of meeting the man! I have been told the World Movie trailer shows a rather funny scene where Saeko spurts water like a mini geyser and soaks everything within a few metre radius during sex. Now that might make you think this film is a weird, kinky number but it’s nothing like that at all. So if you’re after kinky water gushing sex then you may be disappointed.
The fact is Warm Water Under a Red Bridge is quite unfathomable. I’m not sure what the director is trying to express here but water plays an important role in the film. ‘Water is life’ seems to be what he is trying to say. Saeko nearly drowned in the river when she was young and watched her mother being swept away in strong currents in the same accident. She often feels water filling up inside her and about to burst. The water that spurts out during her lovemaking incites the fishes in the river into a frenzy. Most of the male characters in the film are fishermen or are connected to the sea in some ways, even the deceased ones!
This is a quirky and gentle film, not just in its narrative but also in the atmosphere that it sets. The film is mostly captured at long shots so you often feel slightly distant to the characters making it hard to engage with them. It tries to marry realism with surrealism together, the resulting effect is actually quite comical. For example each time Saeko has sex, the music loop which accompanies the coupling sounds like it’s from a cartoon. You can’t take it seriously but everything else compels you to take in the philosophical reasoning of it.
Try as I might, I found this film mildly amusing and my patience wore thin for its quirkiness half way through the film. For those who have seen and enjoyed his other work, such as The Eel this may be for you.