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Film Review: Tomie: Forbidden Fruit (Tomie: Saishuu-sho – Kindan no kajitsu) (2002)

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SYNOPSIS:

Tomie terrorizes an artistically inclined young girl and her widowed father, slowly integrating herself into the family.

REVIEW:

Tomie: Forbidden Fruit is the fifth installment of the nine-part Tomie series. It’s directed by Shun Nakahara and stars Nozomi Ando as the infamous she devil, both of which do an adequate job in bringing yet another Tomie story come alive on the silver screen.  From what I read, many fans of the series seem to consider this the best film of the lot. I personally cannot comment on that too much, having only seen one other Tomie film (Tomie: Replay, which I reviewed here earlier in the year), but I can say that while I didn’t hate it, it did not end up being my favourite one either.

Like the other films of the series, Forbidden Fruit is not an exact copy of any of the Junji Ito’s original stories, but an amalgamation of several different tales. The larger themes of the film have mainly been borrowed from chapters titled Assassins, Hair and Babysitter, but many other elements have been taken from all over the combined Tomie stories.

Forbidden Fruit is not a fancy looking film, in fact I would go as far as saying it looks rather cheaply made. The cinematography isn’t particularly interesting or even well shot (it’s not terrible, just really rather boring) and I personally found the colour scheme ever so slightly irritating, with few exceptions. In other words, nothing in the visual side of this film really does anything to help bring Junji Ito’s beautiful artwork come alive. Despite this, Forbidden Fruit somehow manages to capture the sinister atmosphere of the comics incredibly well. This wasn’t patently obvious to me to starts off with, I really had to mull this film over a bit, but more I thought about it, more I kept getting the same kind of feeling I do when ever I read the comics. Much of this is thanks to Nozomi Andos performance as Tomie. She may not be the most violent incarnation of this psycho succubus, but she certainly does a creditable job in portraying the more manipulative and selfish side of Tomie as well as her preposterously unforgiving and jealous nature. All of these being essential elements to Tomies character and the story arcs, it was a pleasant surprise that they played such a major role in the film. If while watching Tomie: Replay I might have felt a slight hint of empathy for poor little Tomie, getting killed over and over again, that certainly did not happen this time. Andos Tomie  is every bit as horrible as she is in the pages of the comics and I really, really hoped she would meet her end in the most horrific way.

This is where the film fell short for me: the lack of violence. It doesn’t need it per se, but it being a Tomie film, I was rather hoping for some good old body horror. And if not body horror, then at least couple of decent kill scenes with a bit of dismemberment thrown in the mix. Unfortunately, I was bitterly disappointed on this score once again. Our titular character of course ends up being murdered several times before the end of the movie (and even dismembered), but none of it is really shown and the violence in general forms a very small part of the film. I understand that this particular tale is more about the psychological effect that this psychotic she-devil has on her victims, but couple of well executed kill scenes wouldn’t have gone amiss. The film does utilise on the regenerating powers of Tomie somewhat and these bits do have a slightly Cronenberg-ish vibe to them, but again, I would have liked to have seen more of this. As it stands, the body horror scenes are few and far between and unfortunately, not particularly horrific.

It’s hard to say whether I would recommend Forbidden Fruit or not. It really does have its good points and if you are a fan of the comics you might appreciate the atmosphere it has to offer. On the other hand, I did find it somewhat slow going, and as a horror film not especially scary.  I definitely would not recommend it as a stand-alone film. If I would have watched Forbidden Fruit without any previous knowledge of the Tomie stories, I doubt I would have enjoyed it at all. As it stands, I suppose it is a worth a watch if you are particularly keen on seeing all of the series or especially curious of seeing how this incarnation of Tomie works compared to the comics. Otherwise I maybe wouldn’t bother. You would definitely not be missing much.

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