Ride or Die, a Japanese production on Netflix, was a disappointment to me. I found the characters unformed and difficult to understand. The male gaze predominated whether we were watching a murder or lovemaking between two women.
Ride or Die was very Japanese in that much of the dilemma in the plot was about the possibility of committing suicide after murdering someone. It made the story move in fits and starts. It would move along, and then we were back again in the question of suicide from both the main characters.
In the beginning, Rei (Kiko Mizuhara) picks up a man in a bar. He takes her to his home. They’re having sex when he asks her what she wants. She answers, “Your wife.” Then she slits his throat and stands immobile as his blood runs down her naked body.
In the first of many flashbacks, we learn of Rei’s high school first love Nanae (Honami Satô). Nanae was apparently straight. Rei and Nanae hadn’t seen each other for 10 years. But when Nanae called Rei, Rei ran to her. She left behind her current relationship without a blink.
Nanae shows Rei her bare body marked with dozens of deep bruises from the beatings her husband delivers. She asks Rei to kill him. So Rei does.
The love between Rei and Nanae appears one-sided. Is Nanae just manipulating Rei to get rid of her husband? Or does she actually care about Rei?
Then the film becomes a road trip as the two of them flee arrest. They go to Nanae’s former home where she had a poor beginning complete with beatings from her father. They go to Rei’s childhood home. Rei came from money. Rei’s brother encourages her to call the police and confess.
Rei and Nanae run again. They find a cabin by the sea where they finally make love. Again, the male gaze made this scene feel inauthentic.
The emotional tone of the story and the characters was all over the place. It was hard to get a sense of who they were. They seemed to change on a dime. Were they committed to each other? The final scenes make that seem a possibility.
The film has received some good reviews. It may strike you better than it did me. I can’t recommend it without reservations.
Have a look at the trailer.
Are you going to give this Japanese film a try?