Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Kei Kataokaís slow moving and deliberate, somewhat coming of age film ĎInstallí certainly pushed the edge of oneís comfort level. And considering that this is a movie that has not even so much as a cleavage shot, thatís saying something.

At the ripe old age of seventeen, pretty Asako Nazawa (Aya Ueto) has come to a crossroads in her young life. She has not been a very good student, has very few friends, has a very distant relationship with her mother and, as the few friends she has have told her, she has no goals. Armed with that critical knowledge, Asako decides to drop out of school, put everything in her bedroom in the dumpster and spend the rest of her life doing absolutely nothing. A 10-year old boy by the name Kazuyoshi (Ryunosuke Kamiki) happens upon the girl as she is lying out in front of the dumpster and asks her if he could have the computer she is throwing away. She agrees that if he fixes it, it is his. Over the next couple of days Asako does nothing, avoids her mother and occasionally runs into Kazu. Kazu even thinking that Asako may be suicidal asks if he can cop a free feel of her boob before she kills herself, an offer she declines assuring the kid that she has no intentions of killing herself at the moment.

Anyway, while visiting Kazu at his apartment which is the same building as hers, he shows her the now working computer. He also explains to her that sometimes he pinch hits for an Internet Sex Madam pretending to be a twenty six-year old mother into freaky stuff. The actual Madam, spending most of her time caring for her child, canít keep up her business and Kazu having to attend elementary school canít handle the duties during the day so he asks Asako, who does absolutely nothing during the day, to handle the duties. Reticent at first, she eventually agrees and soon she is on the internet talking dirty to all kinds of different men and learning all kinds of little intimate things about herself.

The title of ĎInstallí refers to Kazu installing a new operating system into Asakoís broken computer and also Asako having a new operating system, so to speak, installed into her. We spend an awful lot of time with Asako in this film, and a lot that time is spent watching Asako doing absolutely nothing. Now perhaps it is being relayed to us through these long stretches of nothing, the emptiness and aimlessness of the girlsí present course of direction, but I sure would have rather been told than shown. With a running time of a relatively tame 94 minutes, ĎInstallí sure did feel a heck of a lot longer.

As I mentioned earlier, there were a couple of uncomfortable scenes in the film which I could have done without seeing either such as Asakoís description of her Ďdampí panties after a particularly raunchy online tryst. But hey, itís all about the sexual awakening of seventeen-old girl so I suppose this is just something that weíre going to have to deal with. But dealing with a  ten-year old palming the seventeen-year olds left breast for what seemed to be virtual eternity whilst they said nothing was a little painful. Iím sure there was some meaning there somewhere, but I was probably too busy twisting in my seat to grasp it.

Since the movie is based on a book written author Risa Wataya when she was seventeen herself, Iím certain the emotions, feelings and impact of the character of Asako is real and genuine, it just didnít make for very good cinema. Actress Aya Ueto acquits herself well in the role of the fairly lazy misguided Asako, considering that there are very few scenes in the film that she isnít in, but she really isnít given a whole lot to do, and the character is neither sympathetic in any way and nor does she realistically grow in any significant manner throughout the film. Eventually she does have an epiphany brought on by a sudden external event, but that event is in no way linked to anything she has experienced in the film up until that point, basically rendering everything weíve seen before it pointless.

No, I didnít care for ĎInstallí much, but then perhaps itís because Iím not a seventeen-year old Japanese girl coming to terms with my sexuality, which may have contributed to my lack of understanding of itís point or meaning. A better film though would have made me understand no matter who I am or where I come from.

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