Fantastic Review: ‘Body Temperature’ is a Cinematic Block of Ice With Breasts

By  · Published on September 26th, 2011

What’s a boy to do when he starts neglecting his sex doll for a real woman? Apparently nothing for 72 minutes.

In the grand scheme of things, writer/director Takaomi Ogata’s Body Temperature could be seen as a slow burn of sweetness and sex, but it’s more like an unmoving mass that stands hopelessly still while the water creeps by around it. Even the title is appropriately tepid – not invoking an action or a strong descriptor, but simply pointing to that thing that pops up on the screen whenever we use a thermometer. It’s an entry on a medical exam checklist, and it’s a dead give away as to the levels of excitement the film has in store.

The movie dozes off while telling the story of Rintaro (Chavetaro Ishizaki), a truly lonely man who has developed a bond to his sex doll he calls Ibuki (played by a real doll and by Rin Sakuragi). He is caring and tender with her at home, takes her on dates to go bowling, and exhibits a kind of profound sadness at loving a thing that never returns the conversation. All of this is challenged when he starts talking with Rinko (also played by Sakuragi), who (since she’s human) talks back to him. How can he commit when his lover sits at home motionless in a wheelchair?

The most glaring problem is that nothing much happens in the film. The glacial pace is clearly intentional, but Ogata doesn’t do enough (or much of anything) to infuse his imagery with meaning. Sure, Rintaro is depressed and lonely, but there are only so many minutes that you can display that before needing to move on to a new idea. The camera work doesn’t help either. Instead of creating visually interesting shots where the internal emotion can spring forth, Ogata all but sets the camera on a tri-pod and lets it roll. It’s flat, uninteresting, and there’s no story to be filmed anyway.

Slow burn can be done with startling effect, but there’s no meat on the plate here. Shots last far too long, some are framed poorly, and Ishizaki is given little more to do than “look mopey” and give himself a handjob with a doll’s hand.

On that front, it comes close to being a Pink Film with its level of sex and toplessness, and while some of those moments are awkward, there’s an endearing nature to just how damned sweet Rintaro can be.

There is a subtext at work here because (since she’s played by an actress) Ibuki might as well have been a paraplegic loved one, and Rintaro might as well have been cheating on her, but those ideas are inherent in the concept, not given life because of the writing or acting.

However, Sakuragi deserves particular praise for remaining completely still for unbelievably long stretches of time. Sadly, the movie seems to echo her talents there in the worst way possible.

The Upside: An interesting idea with meaningful subtext, bare breasts

The Downside: It’s a short film that’s been stretched to 72 minutes. It doesn’t do service to the idea by displaying it interestingly.

On the Side: Manufacturer recommendations state that sex dolls should be cleaned of all bodily fluids every 7–10 days.

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.