As Strange As Delivered Through The Virtual Eye

in 33rd International Film Festival Rotterdam

by Ruth Pombo

One should wonder sometimes in what makes that such a complicated matter as it is making a good feature will end up with a proper result. It is something that depends on so many different things that, just as some examples, neither a wonderful script, good acting nor the previous work of the director, the final responsible of it, could be enough to guarantee. Peep ‘TV’ Show proves that talent and consistency could come from apparently nowhere known previously. In this case, Yutaka Tsuchiya first attempted on making a fiction documentary about teenagers wandering around Shibuya, the trendiest area in Tokyo, after some previous underground docs more related to video art and television.

Shot in DV and very low-budgeted, what made him start into it was the force in his fascination for one of its main characters, a real mixture of a Goth and a kinky girl in shepherd clothes that practically performs as herself in the film and to who he is sentimentally related still today. She is the co-writer of the script: with her help the director got into the virtual and style-is-all-that-matters world of spaceless otakus from Tokyo, anonymous human beings that construct their lives almost exclusively by watching images of some other’s. Peep ‘TV’ Show focus in how their identity comes from what they dress, what they have and what they see: all these conform not a way of expressing themselves, but their only possibility to exist.

The young people’s routines that this film follows, in a Big Brother sort of way, are basically on their own. They are alone and shut into themselves, and the extremely well expressed lack of references for their protagonists to rely on are directly related to how this feature explores space, contrasting the claustrophobic small cubicles where they refugee from the rest with the no vistas and no horizon out and around the public spaces of the neon city full of screens and windows and colors where they belong too… and where nothing is ever simply for effect. The film fascinates as uses their own glacial appearances to connect them, as its strength flows from one character to another with the use of a complex combination of surveillance cameras, virtual communication devices and real time shared experiences thanks to the Internet.

Those simply are the content and form of who they are and of what this film is about. Never before it was best accomplished to strongly construct a way to get into a world to be discovered using the essential nature of what this world is made of. This is not at all a deconstruction of reality as we are used to in nowadays cinema: Peep ‘TV’ Show is an accurate description made of impressions, edited using no plots nor narrative as we traditionally understand it, but that makes the audience strongly rely on the very essence of their peculiar protagonists and what they feel.

There are many different ways of combining fiction and reality, as it could be the case, for example, in the superb Las horas del día by Spanish filmmaker Jaime Rosales, hypnotic even though naturalistic by expressive means that reminds of Bresson… Or the postmodern mixing of diverse formats that go from traditional fiction to images of its real main character, in the great American Splendor, a surprising switching from comedy to tragedy as effective as the change from 35 mm to animation and to TV images that appears alternatively glacial but mostly warmhearted. Peep ‘TV’ Show language is very different from these two, but far beyond it also accomplishes a round and consistent vision of the world of today, in which the main for despair is ruled by sexual frustrations and loneliness… and could be controlled by contrasting the virtual and the real as a way for freedom.