It's not often that a pinku film leaves me with unequivocally pleasant feelings but hey, it wouldn't be such an enticing genre to me if it didn't surprise once in a while. Rope and Breasts is actually the first film I've seen from the legendary Masaru Konuma, which probobly seems weird given that his earlier work (most notably Flower and Snake and Wife to be Sacrificed) is much better known, and not only launched the grand success of Naomi Tani (who I have so enjoyed in other films) but also launched Nikkatsu on their lengthy kick of mpstly working in the adult genre. Rope and Breasts may not be especially Earth shattering but it has character, charm to spare and a couple of great scenes. It tells the story of husband and wife BDSM performance team Issao and Sayo Mayuzumi who are on the down and out relationship wise but nonetheless accept a private commision before what may prove their last public show. The general workings of the film will surprise few, their private job is for an older man and wife whose tastes are a little more dangerous than their average audience and the experience proves a transformative one, but the attitude sets this one a little apart. There's an absence of cynicism and cruelty, replaced by compassion and something like warmth, younger Issao and Sayo bicker and fret away in private the flickering power exchanges of their relationship in marked contrast to the certainties of their show, they chip and bustle rather than slash and rend, one can't help wanting the best for them both rather than gloating over their misfortune and possibility of degradation. And the older Kenzo and Taeko may be deviants tinged with something of the sinister, but their wisdom and experience shines through and they are far from the menacing older generations of so many other films of the genre.
The performances are all adept, Nami Matsukawa very fine as Sayo with her unrarified looks and strong demeanour, Ryosei Tayama rightly hesitant as Issao, and Izumi Shima compelling as the viciously beautiful Taeko. Everything looks crisp and attractive with some vibrant use of colors, especially during the opening and events flow most pleasantly, it may not be the most exciting of films but it is certainly never dull. Perhaps one or two more set-pieces would have pushed things up for me but as it stands there's some quality flogging and a great water wheel scene, so it all ends up pretty cool. Altogether then, this is well worth a look for genre enthusiasts. A classic it is not, but still richly entertaining and more loveable than expected, BW recommends!