Review: ‘Wet Woman in the Wind’ Is a Queasy Sex Romp


Yuki Mamiya and Tasuku Nagaoka in one of many sex scenes in “Wet Woman in the Wind.” Credit Nikkatsu/MUBI

The characters in this Japanese sex comedy include a successful playwright who’s trying to get his head together in the country and his buddy, a local handyman. Then there’s the proprietor of a coffee shop who can’t seem to keep his mind on his business, and a server at said coffee shop, who may or may not be the proprietor’s mistress — but who definitely has an amorous interest in the playwright.

The setup and characters are a little reminiscent of a film by the Korean anatomist of bad romance Hong Sang-soo. But this isn’t any such thing.

“Wet Woman in the Wind,” directed by Akihiko Shiota, is more concerned with sex than sexual neuroses. The movie is one of several recent postmodern reboots of what has been called “roman porno,” a subgenre of erotic cinema that was very popular in Japan in the 1970s and ’80s. These were cheaply made soft-core pictures that could get away with a lot of aesthetic quirkiness, on account of also featuring images of half-naked women like clockwork. Nikkatsu, the studio that pioneered the form, is now commissioning new films as a kind of cheeky self-homage.

But let’s make no bones about it: This is a film designed to appeal to straight male prurient interest. Yuki Mamiya, who plays Shiori, the title character, has a smoldering quality that fills the bill. Much less winning is the way the movie treats consent, as in the playwright’s rough “seduction” of a very young fan. Genre homage or not, trashy, assault-coddling sexism is a turn off — and worse. Perhaps the “roman porno” reboot project should have rebooted its sexual politics before calling “action!”

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