Like Grains Of Sand  (1996)
Director: Ryosuke Hashiguchi
Cast: Yoshinori Okada, Kuota Kusano
Ayumi Hamizaki, Kumi Takada

High school boys Ito (Yoshinori Okada) and his friend, Yoshida (Kuota Kusano), are about to embark on their first serious relationships of their teenage years.  Unfortunately for Ito he is actually in love with his friend Yoshida.

Ito’s father takes him to a clinic expecting to have Ito “treated”,  after he finds a gay dating letter in the mail.  What Ito’s father finds out is that homosexuality is no longer considered a disease.  At this clinic Ito meets, and gets to know Aihara (Ayumi Hamizaki) a quiet girl, who was recently transferred to his school and is in he and Yoshida’s class.  Aihara is attending the clinic to help her cope with problems from her old school.

After a cruel “outing” for Ito at the hands of his classmates, Ito confesses his feelings to Yoshida, who does not react as expected.
Later Yoshida is out on a date with Shimizu (Kumi Takada), and they accidentally run into Ito and Aihara, also out on a “sort of” date, from here the quartet stay together for the rest of the day.

Yoshida’s affections move from Shimizu, to Aihara, but Ito is still in love with him.  Yoshida, Aihara and Ito eventually form a troubled but closely bound trio.

Here we have a brilliant and moving film with a frank portrayal of budding emotions, sexuality (heterosexual or otherwise) which is very similar to the more recent Show Me Love (1998).  The subject this time is gay teenage boys contrasting Show Me Love’s gay teenage girls.  Though Show Me Love has a more angry, confrontational and vociferous actions and reactions from the characters.  Like Grains of Sand has the characters playing it with a more calm (mostly), quiet, reserved and unspoken approach.

Both films are equally moving, intelligent, respectful, non-judgmental and egalitarian in their approach to the subject of homosexuality.  Which by now, in this day and age should be more readily accepted than it is by people not of that sexual persuasion.  At least for the reason that during World War 2 Adolf Hitler burnt homosexuals in gas chambers with Jews, and how many people would like it to be know that they share an opinion of a certain group of people with the biggest psycho of the 20th century?  But also because it is know now that it is not a disease, and well whatever happened to live and let live?

But I know that there are people of the gay persuasion out there who judge people of heterosexual persuasion.  With half-baked philosophies like, “All humans are bisexual” and “How do you know if you don’t try it?”  A majority of the population has quite rightly accepted homosexuals and lesbians as equal human beings, instead of humans that need “cured”.  All that heterosexuals ask in return is the same respect and acceptance of our sexual choice.  Choice and freedom of choice being they key here!

This double standard is portrayed deliberately (I am sure) in Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy (1997).  When Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) tells her lesbian friends that she is dating a guy, they ostracize her.  After women of their persuasion have been accepted and their choice not judged by a mainly heterosexual population.  They then judge one of their friends for her choice of a heterosexual relationship, instead of a lesbian one.  If they had done what they ask of us, they would have accepted her decision and not judged or ostracized her as they did.  Is this lesbianism for the sake of fashion or for the chance to be different and then after acceptance by the heterosexuals of the world, choosing not to accept any  choice other than lesbianism?  This friends whatever way you cut it is hypocrisy!

Like Grains of Sand is a beautiful film and deserves to be viewed as such, and judged as this, not just as a “GAY” film.  After all Wong Kar-Wai that talented director of films like Chungking Express (1994) and Fallen Angels (1995), said while promoting his film Happy Together (1997) that “Trauma is trauma, love is love, pain is pain, and tears are tears, whether the relationship be heterosexual or homosexual, this does not change, these things are open to all, pain in love is universal” I am paraphrasing of course, but this is close to what he said, and what he wanted his film to portray to it’s audience.

This is a beautiful film, wonderfully acted by an almost totally teenage cast.  Wonderfully photographed in mostly middle distance shots  by Shogo Ueno.  And though there is not a lot of music during the film, what there is which is not played by the school bands, is magnificent.

Review By Giovanni Pistachio,

Giovanni can be contacted at: –



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