Lets get the obvious out of the way first. 2LDK stands for 2-bedroom, living room, dining room and kitchen. In this case it refers to the location where the entire movie takes place. A small apartment somewhere in Tokyo. This apartment is the stage for an epic battle between two young women.
Nozomi (Koike Eiko) is a withdrawn aspiring actress, with a perverted sense of order, and no luck with men. Lana (Maho Nonami) is a struggling actress desperate to reinvent herself in the wake of too many sleazy roles. She thinks little of her roommate, whose lack of sexual experience, and anal labelling of everything in the fridge, provides Lana a constant source of aggravation.
Both actresses are up for a high-profile role in a Yakuza movie. Theyve just learned that the race is down to just the two of them, and the director is set to make his decision on the casting the next day. Now these two women must spend the night together in their apartment, not knowing whose fortune will be made, and who will be fresh out of luck. Naturally the mood soon turns sour.
The internal musings of the girls reveal their disdain for each other, but soon they turn to verbal abuse, in an attempt to throw the other one off balance. When the words fail to achieve the desired effect, they resort to violence, and soon all-out war erupts. But the night is still young, and when nothing else works... the chain saw comes out.
Theres nothing quite like the sight of two girls tearing each other to pieces with that unmistakable Japanese zeal.
2LKD is a part of the Dual-movie Project. The two Japanese directors Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus) and Yukihiko Tsutsumi challenged each other to a film duel. Each director had to make a film, while following these rules: The story must focus on a duel between two people. The film must take place in one location only. And finally: The directors were only allowed to shoot for seven days. Ryuhei Kitamuras film is called Aragami and follows two ancient warriors, but Yukihiko Tsutsumi has chosen a contemporary setting instead. But that doesnt mean its any less vicious. Household items like a film award, a fire extinguisher and that chain saw I mentioned before, come into play as the two roommates throw themselves into the fight using any and all means.
Dont be fooled by the experimental origin of the film, this is a bona fide cinematic experience, and if youre anything like me, youll forget the high-concept set-up after a few minutes, and never give it another thought after that.
2LDK is just a small film, but it packs a heavy punch. The thing that impressed me the most was the way Tsutsumi lets the conflict escalate. At some point I realized that everything the girls did was over-the-top, but I couldnt say exactly where the film went over the line, and thats the beauty of it.
Im not familiar with the two actresses who play Nozomi and Lana, but they did a superb job. The frustration they feel towards each other initially is quite believable. They keep their emotions in check, because thats what you do in the real world, but it gets harder and harder for them to ignore each others faults. Equally believable is the look of relief on their faces when they finally surrender to their primordial desire to hurt each other physically. It feels odd to call a film where somebody pulls out a chain saw to settle a domestic dispute, believable, but I just cant help it! The film has an internal logic that may not stand, when its related to the real world, but within the confines of the film, it all makes sense. But dont think this is not just a senseless parade of violence. The film also has some tender and fragile moments.
This is as simple as it gets - two actors, one room, one duel - and yet 2LDK never feels confined. Its energetically shot (on real film stock I might add), with some clever framing and a truly playful direction. If I had to guess, I would never have thought this film was shot in just a week! In my native Denmark films are generally shot in about 6 weeks, and they still look like crap by comparison.
I caught this film on the American region 1 DVD. This disc also contains an enlightening documentary that reveals the mayhem that went on behind the scenes. It shows how both lead actresses got a severe fever during the production, but had to work anyway, despite the fact that they could hardly stand, and it shows how the crew took turns sleeping on the set, when the final day of shooting went on for 24 hours straight!
2LDK delivers the goods for anyone interested in Asian films. Forget the fact that its only 70 minutes long and forget that the story could fit on the tip on a toenail, this is riveting stuff! Another film confirming that Asian cinema is the place to be. Just remember one thing, when you get there... rent a single room.