Believe it or not, it’s possible to not only cast but also shoot an entire film in just two weeks. Don’t believe me? Japanese director Hitoshi One and producer Masashi Yoshikawa did just that with Be My Baby and they pull it off incredibly well.
Be My Baby is a special ‘workshop’ film from Japan, where budding actors turn up at a workshop audition and those who are lucky enough to be cast are set to work the very next day under the supervision of a veteran director. The film’s a mix of hilarious, cringe-worthy and depressing all at the same time, so the fact that was made on a budget of less than 1 million yen (about £5,000) really shouldn’t put you off.
The film’s story is based on a play directed by the same Hitoshi One and follows the lives of eight twenty-somethings living in Tokyo. You’re quickly introduced to all the main characters in the first 10 minutes of the film as they file into an apartment for a get-together (also involving a plot to set up the nerdy Osamu and supposedly ‘ugly’ Yuko). What appears to be a friendly social gathering in fact reveals the ugly sides of all the characters, from the possessive and emotionally abusive boyfriends to the guys referring to Yuko as a ‘dog’ to the horrendous double standards of a certain individual who thing it’s absolutely fine and dandy to cheat on someone, as long as they aren’t cheated on in turn.
Personally, I found the guys came across much worse in this film but the girls don’t fare much better, constantly putting up with their rubbish. I actually groaned “oh my god, don’t let him get away with that!” on several occasions but, strangely enough, there are certain elements in all of the characters that you or someone you know will identify strongly with. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the plot itself because that would give away a lot of surprises. All I will say is that it has one of the most hilarious and unfortunate endings I’ve seen in a long time.
Be My Baby allows you to glimpse a lot of little details about life in Japan because its subject matter is simply about life itself, although I’m glad my twenty-something life doesn’t involve the same level of drama. There’s one scene where two people become girlfriend and boyfriend, and the script pretty much goes like this…
Girl: “I like you.”
Guy: “I like you too.”
Girl: “So, does that mean… boyfriend?” *points at self*
Guy: “Yes, girlfriend!”
Girl: “OK, let’s kiss!”
Guy: “Wait, I need to brush my teeth first.”
Not that I imagine all relationships form this way in Japan, obviously, but there’s something incredibly quaint about this scene that makes you thing “only in Japan”.
There are plenty of both laugh-out-loud and moving moments in the script and you very quickly forget that the actors are amateurs because they’re very good actors. In the world of entertainment, ‘amateur’ isn’t synonymous with ‘badly done’, and Be My Baby is a very well-done film, especially when you consider that it was made in the space of only two weeks. The DVD extras include interviews with the cast and producer, which are worth watching if you’re interested in learning how the ‘workshop’ film industry works and want to go a bit more behind the scenes. If you’re a cinema geek and want to watch something completely different, I highly recommend this film.
Be My Baby is available from Third Window Films from Monday 25th May!