Review: Solid

Written, directed by and starring Iwasa Hiroki, two guys are trying to have sex, but the earthquakes keep coming back, interfering with their intimate moment. Too scared to fall asleep, they stay up all night to share their earthquake memories. Also starring Naoichi Asahina.

Iwasa Hiroki had a fantastic concept here, the amount of long weekend stories with straight couples is innumerable, so it’s refreshing to see one in a queer context. Unfortunately, the finished product can’t live up to expectations. As with any short film, you only have a brief amount of time to introduce and connect with your characters, so they have to be strong right out of the gate and these simply aren’t. The frustrating element is that while there is value in making a short surrounding gay sex which is only gradually appearing more in the media, there’s little else to it. Diving straight into that physicality and it taking over such a big portion of the story, leaves too little space to build personalities and emotion.

A large obstacle is the style of direction, it has a penchant for unusual and overly close angles, especially given the tight quarters of the location which leave barely any breathing space. It creates a clumsy or awkward feeling, struggling to build up a more romantic or sexual atmosphere. It’s hindered also by the palette, it’s missing out on colour and a more striking impression. It plays with a mundane, everyday arena and while that can work for a more earnest story, here it needed something to bring through the sensuality and affection. Choosing such a restricted space, is already adding a big challenge and sadly, it just constricts the film far too much, throwing the scenes in your face rather than allowing them to build and establish themselves.

All of that means there’s a lot of pressure on the lead actors, Iwasa Hiroki and Naoichi Asahina and sadly, their performances can’t elevate the film. With that minimal time to create larger personalities for them, they’re hard to sympathise and connect with. It also doesn’t feel like there’s a tangible chemistry between the two. The interaction between them comes across fairly forced or transactional, it’s lacking a natural or emotive atmosphere. It doesn’t hit the notes for a sincere relationship or a steamy weekend, it lands somewhere in the middle, which lacks a strong impression.

Solid had a great idea to take an intimate weekend, following emotional memories but the style and acting can’t fulfil its potential. It feels like Iwasa Hiroki gave himself too much of a challenge, working in a very restricted environment, leaving the direction and cinematography feeling awkward or clumsy, lacking in atmosphere or sympathy to build the impact it called for.

Verdict: ✯ | 2/10

Reviewed as part of Queer East Film Festival

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