Starring: Kang Ji-young, Naoto Takenaka, Aya Omasa
Director: Renpei Tsukamoto
Running Time: 100 mins
Reon is a Japanese film about a womanising corporate boss who, after a freak accident, swaps bodies with a shy woman working in his company. Despite their differences, the two then discover new things about each other, and themselves.
The body-swapping genre is hardly home to the greatest classics of cinema, and Reon is further proof that, as fun and silly as the premise say seem, it’s not the perfect recipe for a memorable or even properly entertaining film. A messy, generally unfunny and consistently stupid film, there’s really not much to write home about with Reon, and despite its attempts to tell an enjoyable story with a morally uplifting message, it really fails to entertain or even interest to a slight degree.
So, the short message of this review is that you might as well give Reon a skip. It’s not a hateful film, and as poor as it is at times, there are a couple of good, surreal laughs here and there – just about enough to keep it afloat – but in terms of providing a consistently entertaining and engaging watch, this film does a really poor job.
Not only does its premise fall rather flat throughout, with a half-hearted attempt at introspective emotion as the two body-swappers begin to see life from a different perspective, but the film is also filled with an irritating atmosphere of stupidity.
Mainstream Japanese comedies aren’t always the most cerebral, but they can often provide a thoroughly enjoyable and easy-going watch with a unique brand of simplistic yet crazed humour. Reon, however, feels worse, lacking the ingenuity to come up with any genuinely surprising or memorable comedy, and too often reverting to frustratingly basic and juvenile jokes, with a little too much in the way of lurid gags when a little bit of wit and intelligence is badly needed.
Couple that with a body-swapping premise that thinks it’s a lot funnier than it actually is, and you have a film that consistently misses the mark, never proving as entertainingly silly as it at first lets on, and at times even growing irritatingly stupid with its underwhelming and repetitively poor humour.
The lead performances from Kang Ji-young and Naoto Takenaka are rather shrill throughout, and their presentations of each other’s characters (in their own bodies) is both inconsistent and unconvincing. The body swap premise does offer up the chance to exaggerate stereotypes (both of individual characters and wider gender conventions), but Reon goes a little too far, with a childish screenplay that sees both leads push the zany, over-the-top mockery of one another beyond what’s actually funny.
And that’s ultimately what makes Reon such a frustrating watch. It’s not an awful watch, and there are some very funny moments of surreal humour here and there. However, for the most part, it’s an uninteresting and disappointingly basic film that relies too much on simplistic, repetitive humour and a messy premise that really misses the mark, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.0 overall.