When it comes to sexually explicit movies there is often a fine line between art and pornography, and in Berlin Drifters, director Kôichi Imaizumi crosses it back and forth throughout the movie.
This tale of two Japanese gay men who are essentially trying to find their own very different ways in Berlin is told through a whole series of sexual encounters that leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. Ryota (Lyota Majima) arrives in the city after being lured from Japan by a German man online who had promised him love but only really wanted a one-night-stand. Kôichi (played by director Imaizumi) who is quite lonely after the break-up of a long-standing relationship, comes across Ryota being the center of attention in an orgy in an underground club.
He takes pity on the homeless Ryota and offers him a place to stay in return for some help cleaning, shopping and with plenty of sex thrown in too. The pair of them actually seems to settle down to a life of domesticity until restless Ryota becomes addicted to his Grindr app and keeps going out on ‘dates’.
Kôichi is initially intrigued by the younger man’s sexual exploits and insists that each time he returns home the two of them re-enact exactly whatever acts he had performed that day on his ‘date’. This seems to work out well until Ryota announces one day that he has fallen in love with one of his dates (played by Dutch porn star Michael Selvaggio) and he naively thought that even marriage is on the cards.
When he leaves to find out if this will all end happily ever after, it is obvious that Kôichi had been carrying something of a torch for his young roommate all the time.
Like many indie movies filmed on a very low budget, Berlin Drifters does suffer from low production values and some wooden performances from cast members who had obviously not been selected for their acting talents.
Imaizumi himself is a very successful soft-porn actor in Japan but by making this ‘romance’ movie his heart is obviously in the right place. If you can look beyond all the sex (!) there are some very touching scenes such as Kôichi reunion with his ex-boyfriend that make this intriguing wee tale a compelling watch after all.