The primitive man juxtaposed against the modern man. Masculinity's impulse towards conquest has not evolved it has just been re-contextualized in modernity. Shinji Sômai's Luminous Woman may align with heteronormative expectations of romance, yet the way it purveys the commodification of feminity and its exploitation in modern times through a fascinating prism that contrasts modern gender relations in a patriarchal society with the purely corporeal hierarchy of primitivity is truly fascinating. It could be argued that A Luminous Woman is narratively speaking one of Sômai's more disheveled features but it is also one of his most aesthetically brilliant efforts, and I found this to be thematically enthralling. A film in which Sômai seems intrigued at interrogating the parallels between the natural, primitive world and the manufactured realities of today brought by technological progress, both of which still perfectly align with patriarchal ideals of gender. Luminous Woman ultimately aligns with the more pure nature of the elemental world, one in which a simpler more primitive way of life is away from technology. Women are viewed as objects within any patriarchal framework, and in a sense what Somai suggests is the abstractions of modernity brought by technology and capitalism only exacerbate the exploitation, as it becomes more insidious being not only driven by physical impulse but financial incentivization. I'd be lying if I said I was sure my interpretation is an accurate reading of this film, but I think Luminous Woman is sold short by others on what it's doing beneath the surface of its peculiar love story. What I'm more bullish on is saying that Luminous Woman is Somai's most lavish work I've seen to date, a rapturously expressive piece of cinema that had me constantly in awe. The camera movements, blocking, and framing deployed here by Somai are simply stunning, and from a visual perspective alone I'd consider this thing a near masterpiece. There is a sequence in this film in which two women at the center of a budding love triangle converse over the phone. A simple sequence on paper, but the way Somai constructs it is absolutely god-tier, giving a simple conversation between two women the weight and feeling of existential importance. An immersive, invigorating love story that is simply put, a five-course meal for your eyeballs!!!
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