Friday, March 29, 2013

Movie Review - The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief (2006)

"We sell dreams.  That's our job."

Issei is the owner and host of the escort business in Rakkyo Café.  At the young age of 22, he and a handful of other young men dress themselves in high fashion and create the illusion of a relationship to any woman that pays.  The Great Happiness Space is a documentary not only about the manipulation of emotions for monetary gain, but exposes the raw need within all humanity to be loved.

Watching this film is like walking into a totally alternate reality in context to Western culture.  In Osaka, the men that are found to be most attractive have extremely soft features, accompanied by some light make up and perfectly styled hair.  Some would say they appear feminine or androgynous.  Along with the superficial observations, it is the women here who ultimately pursue the men inside this underground male escort business.

These male hosts can make from $10,000 - $50,000 a month in this service, but it definitely comes at a high price.  Increasing income is totally dependent on the amount of products purchased, namely champagne bottles.  The hosts shower their attention to the customer who orders the most, and in turn other women get jealous and start buying more bottles.  Each host ends the night with a lot of money, but the greater the purse, the worst the liver damage.  Issei speaks of drinking up to 10 bottles of champagne in one night.  Sometimes he vomits and drinks in a cycle, preserving the fantasy by constantly acting interested and excited to be with these women.  He has even seen some guys throwing up blood.

There is a constant manipulation not only in the hosts for money, but in the women who spend it.  The lack of trust involved in both parties results in numerous amounts of mind games with the hosts and themselves.  Many of the women regulars know the money keeps the men around, but hold on to the hope that someday they will get together outside of the service.  The hosts string these women along for years, and the men themselves start to grow apathetic and depressed.  When asked about falling in love, both the men and women want the same thing.  The irony of the situation is that both parties cannot picture relationships without the exchange of money.

The Great Happiness Space is available for stream on Youtube, Netflix, and Youku.

Runtime: 76 min.


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