Ride or Die is a Japanese film released by Netflix that is becoming the byword in cyberspace in recent days. Adapted from the manga titled Gunjo by Ching Nakamura, a film that focuses on the process of escaping a lesbian couple from their problems, one of which is one of the attempts to carry out this murder which has received widespread attention because its erotica content is quite explicit, reminiscent of Blue is the Warmest Color.
How dare you go about taking your loved ones? This question forms the core of this film by filmmaker Ryuichi Hiroki. Combining the conventional journey of self-discovery and escape from the authorities, Ride or Die is not only an LGBTQ + drama film, but also about love and intimate friendships that are cleverly written.
The Ride or Die plot itself is actually simple, but is told in a non-linear way and divides into several different timelines. For those who are interested to watch it, it takes extra patience to listen to it to be able to enjoy it.
Rei (Kiko Mizuhara) is a lesbian daughter from a wealthy family who has a seemingly comfortable life with an older lover until Nanae (Honami Sato), her former lover, reappears. Raised in poverty and trapped in a violent marriage, Nanae desperately wanted to escape her life. But to Rei, she was still a mysterious girl who couldn’t be forgotten even after a 10 year gap.
One cold night, Rei visits a nightclub. There, a man manages to attract her interest and then her lust. However, while making out, Rei kills the man. This man is Nanae’s husband, and Rei realizes the cause and effect of what he just did.
Through flashbacks – both to Rei’s high school days and a week before this incident – Hiroki reveals the complex bonds Nanae and Rei have. This intimate bond is what ultimately makes the plot that is put forward to be interesting.
The method of telling the story and its fairly long duration (almost two and a half hours-ed) as previously emphasized, make the process of watching Ride or Die sometimes feel like it’s hard work. Fortunately, the film features some beautiful panoramas that showcase the beauty of Japan, which not only entertains the visuals but also reflects the psychological transitions of the characters. Even with the level of erotica, although it is very clear, it seems true that the arrangement of the scenes is thoroughly explored, artistically and challenged, to define the relationship between the characters or their dreams.
Acting as the main anchor, Kiko Mizuhara (who played Mikasa Ackerman in the live action Attack on Titan ) puts her trademark charm aside as she shows, with striking vulnerability, the emotional burden of one act and one obsession has taken on Rei. Meanwhile, Sato plays Nanae for more than just a passive attraction to the victim: Burning anger animates him. The two bring total commitment to their intimate scenes, in which former pinku eiga (erotic film) director Hiroki is a master, giving a deeper and more explicit sensual meaning to their characters’ desires and destinies.
In addition to the visuals, there is a choice of soundtrack songs that can be said to be effective in adding to the excitement of the film’s presentation, and it feels right for the story. One of them is YUI’s hit song, Cherry, whose lyrics are like summarizing the main conflicts that are raised in this film.
Overall, Ride or Die is a classy treat that is perhaps most easily said with the assumption of a blend of Thelma & Louise and Blue is the Warmest Color. In fact, Ride or Die won’t suit everyone. Still, it’s far more engaging and influential than most Netflix film releases, and in a pop culture landscape where every artistic outcome can be easily classified as one thing or another, it’s refreshing to see a film that proudly refuses to be anything other than itself. This is what ultimately helps this film stand out and ultimately achieve its very satisfying goals.