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By Daniel Wible | June 15, 2006

There’s black comedy and then there’s just plain sadistic. Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s “2LDK” is surely on the side of the latter. This little puppy is about as sick and twisted, and yet disturbingly hilarious, as any movie in recent memory. Think of it as a cross between“American Psycho” and that Miller Lite commercial where the two girls… oh I’m sure you remember. Throw in just a tad of “Tom and Jerry” cartoonishness, and you’ve got the cat fight to end all cat fights. The “Apocalypse Now” of cat fights, if you will. Two girls. One apartment. Zero patience.
Like the minimalist plot, the film’s seemingly bizarre title is actually rather straightforward. “2LDK” is the Japanese abbreviation for a two-bedroom apartment with a living room, dining room, and kitchen. The title makes perfect sense since the entirety of the film is confined to this one apartment. Living harmoniously, at least at first, in this apartment are two ladies, Nozomi and Lana. Nozomi is the quiet, small-town actress trying to break into the movies. Lana is the ripened and somewhat jaded studio w***e who’s desperate for one more chance to be a star.
Early on the film, the two find out that the leading female role in a big-budget yakuza picture has been narrowed down to them. To aggravate an already volatile situation, the two ladies also discover that they’re both sleeping with the same man! When these two things combine with more mundane “roommate issues” (such as drinking the other’s drinks, using the other’s shampoo, etc.) and the perversely stylish sadism only found in Japanese cinema, what results is an all-out War. Cue the chainsaw. Bust out the samurai sword. Prepare the electrocution devices. No, this isn’t MTV’s “The Real World”. This is sick, but oh so much fun! As the two ladies pummel each other into the ground, we the audience can only sit back and well… laugh ourselves silly. (Or immediately crawl into your safety cave, if that’s more your leaning.) For by the time any actually affronts take place, we’ve long discarded any affinity for these two ladies. Nozomi is anal-retentive and immature, while Lana is resentful and deceptive.
Director Tsutsumi apparently conceived “2LDK” as part of a ‘dual project’ with his contemporary Ryuhei Kitamura. Mirroring the characters in their eventual films, the two directors challenged each other to make a film about a ‘duel to the death’. Having not seen Kitamura’s “Aragami”, I cannot say which director won this cinematic duel. I can only attest to the 70 minutes of sheer absurdity and guilty pleasure that is “2LDK”. I especially liked the way Tsutsumi lets both the story and the characters breathe, allowing the situation to gain more and more speed until eventually all hell breaks loose. Though short, the film is deftly paced. It never lags and it knows when to quit; any longer might have been disastrous.
While not on the level of, say Fukasaku’s “Battle Royale”, or even Miike’s “Audition”, “2LDK” is still cult-worthy in its own right. It’s currently making the rounds, though sporadically, on the festival circuit. If you’ve ever lived with a roommate (or have serious emotional problems), seek this movie out, you won’t be disappointed.

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