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PASSION Trailer: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s 2008 Sophomore Feature Makes Its U.S. Premiere

Over a decade before he made waves with his Oscar-winning sensation Drive My Car, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi made his sophomore feature film when he was still in film school at Tokyo University of the Arts. Never before seen in the U.S., Passion was what earned the lauded filmmaker international attention for its contemplative aesthetic and intimate, complex look at human relationships.

Passion explores a series of intersecting love triangles that begin to unravel once the couple at the center, Kaho (Aoba Kawai) and Tomoya (Ryuta Okamoto), announce their engagement to their friends. From there, flaws in relationships and hidden romantic feelings begin to rise to the surface. The drama will now finally be released in the U.S. 15 years after its world premiere, courtesy of Film Movement, which also released Hamaguchi’s powerful anthology film, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy.

Here’s an official synopsis:

A remarkable early feature from one of today’s preeminent auteurs. Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s PASSION, his thesis project at Tokyo University of the Arts, lays the thematic foundations for what would become his internationally renowned body of work. Already trading in his recurrent themes of contemporary alienation and unrequited desire and catalyzing what would become lasting collaborations with actors such as Fusako Urabe and Aoba Kawai (WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY), PASSION exemplifies the wellspring of Hamaguchi’s rich and nuanced vivisection of relationships in the 21st century. Following a couple, Kaho (Aoba Kawai) and Tomoya (Ryuta Okamoto), whose engagement announcement among friends reveals a prior infidelity, Hamaguchi infuses the pair’s subsequent reckoning and devolution with characteristic emotional clarity that culminates in a devastating finale.

Opening April 14 at Film at Lincoln Center in New York City, followed by additional markets to be announced at a later date.

Watch the trailer below.

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M.J. O'Toole began writing for HtN in early 2021 during the Sundance Film Festival. An NYC native and lifelong cinephile, his favorite films include Chungking Express, The Three Colors Trilogy, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Lovers on the Bridge, and Midnight Cowboy. He is the Digital Marketing Manager for the agency 3rd Impression - working alongside Editor-at-large Matt Delman - that specializes in digital marketing for independent film. He holds a BA from Adelphi University and a Masters in Digital Photography from the School of Visual Arts. You can check out his portrait and street photography on Instagram.

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