THE LAST SUPPER (2005)
Doctor Yuji Kotorida is a charming and chanting plastic surgeon, who is known as "God's hand" for his work he does on celebrities, and has recently been the subject of a TV expose. The expose coincidently enough, is even done by Saki, a former patient of his. But life wasn't always grand for Yuji. At one time, he was an awkward and introverted student, taken in at his current job as a lowly assistant. But one night, when he took home a small pouch of a woman's recently removed fat and cooked it up to eat, he felt something he had never felt before. He felt fulfilled.
Yuji quickly graduated to the eating the flesh of a woman, when he discovers a housewife in the woods who had recently hung herself. Yuji, using his expertise with a knife, creates meal sized portions and makes sure to eat part of her every night. His personality change to the suave gentleman he currently is grabs the attention of all the staff, who become infatuated with him. On a journey to Hong Kong for a convention, he discovers he is not alone, when he is drawn into a secret dinner society that dine on freshly killed women. Back home, Yuji takes Saki up on a dinner invitation, and breaks his rule about seeing patients. With his hunger growing more ravenous by the day, he must decide if Saki will become his guest of honor at dinner.
Snuggly planted deep between THE UNTOLD STORY and HANNIBAL, writer/director Osamu Fukutani adapts the book by Kei Oishi that some called "unfilmable." Here, a sensuous and almost erotic element is added to the cannibal genre, that save for Thomas Harris' novels and subsequent films, is usually regarded for its outrageous gore and exploitative traits. But don't let the way that Yuji sees his cannibalistic ways - he sees his daily meals as the equivalent of having intercourse once a day - fool you. There is some grotesque and stomach churning violence here. Though the actual killings by decapitation are somewhat hokey, the dismemberment of the bodies are anything but. Fukutani's dedication to realism here verges on material that would be at home in the GUINEA PIG series. Fukutani's use of sound effects, especially the squishy sounds of entrails and the grinding of the bone saws, are down right hair raising.
There is also an element of humor found here. Granted, this is the darkest kind of humor that only coroners and crime scene investigators laugh at to keep from going insane, but it is there. The finest example is when Yuji on several occasions tells his soon to be victim that he wants to eat them. This is at the height of a sensual massage, and while Yuji is thinking one thing, his female companion is thinking something quite different. Several guests at Yuji's apartment are also treated to his "special meat". These scenes, which feature close up shots of his cooking and shows off the masterful presentation of the finished dish, are some of the best sequences in the film. The way that Fukutani sets up these scenes may have vegetarians in the audience particularly glad for the culinary choices, but carnivores watching may find themselves oddly attracted to the idea of sampling the forbidden.
As with any film that is essentially a single character study, the actor filling Yuji's shoes has a great responsibility to carry the story. Masaya Kato, does a quite believable job as Yuji. Even as he performs the most inhuman and unspeakable crimes of modern society, he comes off as sympathetic and charming. The fact that his kills are instantaneous and without malice make the character more easy to stomach. He does not give off any sense of hatred toward woman. Quite the opposite, Yuji's happiness and content as he dines is almost a salute to women, though in a most garish and twisted way. He feels empty and incomplete without a woman.
Though the climax of the film gets a bit out of hand, it seems out of character for the Yuji we have grown to know during the movie. This may be partially to blame for its transition from book to screen, which must condense the storyline to fit into a reasonable timeframe, and thus loses part of the evolution of Yuji. It is a little over the top, and comes too quick to fully enjoy as the main course it should be, as if the film needed to be over at that exact moment. It does however include a most satisfying brief scene that brings Fukutani's power of suggestion to a delicious crescendo that will make you want to want to cook your own food for the rest of your life.