The title of the latest film by the director of In The Realm Of The Senses translates as "taboo", so you'd expect something shockingly controversial. Instead Gohatto is a confusing and often boring examination of forbidden love among 19th century samurai.
New recruit Kano (Ryuhei Matsuda) has a pure, androgynous beauty that has a disruptive effect on his fellow trainees. Soon sexual tension is running high and blood is running freely. But although homosexuality was tolerated - - promoted even - - within the world of the samurai, Oshima sees it as a destructive, negative force.
The lyrical mood is reinforced by a strong score from Ryuichi Sakamoto, but the director's approach is too detached and abstract to engage viewers on an emotional level. His heavy-handed methods - - wordy intertitles and voiceovers - - fail to clarify problems of story, character and time-frame.