Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is writer-director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s effortlessly beautiful anthology film comprised of three vignettes: a morbidly amusing love triangle, a seduction trap that goes awry, and a reunion facilitated by a mutual misunderstanding. These fundamentally feminine stories manifest Hamaguchi’s literary perceptivity towards the opposite gender, which he projects onto the screen with self-assured craftsmanship. The result is a mysterious, nuanced, and ultimately therapeutic viewing experience that flirts with our emotions and then leaves us feeling content about simply being human.

The film’s trio of short stories centres on its female protagonists, who all embody some inexplicable and impalpable desires. From here, they start searching for someone to realise these desires. Mirroring the film’s exquisite title, Hamaguchi dives headfirst into his writing with intentionally forced coincidences. These “fortunes” are a medium for him to experiment with layered film texts that roll with what come next – the “fantasies.” In turn, he challenges our binary notion of reality versus unreality, as the anthology comes full circle in awe of life’s endless possibilities.

Hamaguchi exponentially intensifies the dramatics of each story’s coincidences, while exerting a stationary camera that consistently confines the characters within intimate setups. He commands the flows of audience expectations with calculated twists and turns that bring out the cinematic focus of each chapter: the first story’s gripping dialogues about love and ego; the second story’s ritualistic framing that blends eroticism and self-revelation; and the third story’s alternate reality that heals the pain of regret.

In the film, Hamaguchi’s agile imaginations rebound from states of stasis into magical moments that do not need to make sense. Taking candid snapshots of modern relationships filled with power struggles and existential angsts, he opts for a refreshing sense of optimism and empowerment derived from the little things that only happen once in a lifetime.



CAST: Kotone Furukawa, Aoba Kawai, Shouma Kai

DIRECTOR: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

WRITER: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

SYNOPSIS: A triptych of female-centred short stories bound by coincidences and imaginations.