Japanese Film Review: “Let’s Get Divorced”

Food for Thought

While in Japan for two months, I watched a lot of TV shows. My mom suggested that I watch lowbrow shows to understand the current Japanese culture. Let’s Get Divorced (available on Netflix) was the most educational. (Spoiler alert from here.)

It’s a rom-com, but it is also anti-romantic. I would imagine that the Western audience would find it annoyingly frustrating. In fact, I found one review describing the ending as “unsatisfying.” The title itself challenges the conventional notion of rom-com. “Let’s Get Married” is what we expect, but we also assume it’s tongue-in-cheek. In the end, we trust that the creators do the right thing—but no.

The husband is a politician, and the wife is an actress. From the beginning, he is portrayed as a flawed character who cannot control his sexual urge. He is caught having affairs multiple times. However, as the story progresses, he becomes more mature and responsible.

The wife is faithful, sweet, and angelic at the start, but she gradually becomes flawed. She has an affair with an artist, and she projects onto him what her husband is not. He is a perfect man, except that he cannot get it up. But in a way, his erectile dysfunction is part of the perfection because her husband is the exact opposite.

From his point of view, he doesn’t actually change. She realizes that her image of him is naively delusional. Probably the most “unsatisfying” part of the ending is that she lets her fame get into her head and drives off with a rich, handsome man in a flashy sports car, telling her mother on the phone that it’s unrealistic to love the same man all your life.

The show gives you plenty of romance in the middle, but in the end, it slaps you for falling for it. Conceptually we know nothing is “forever,” but we still want to believe it. Likewise, nobody is perfect, but we still insist on our partners to be perfect. The main purpose of a rom-com is to suspend this disbelief, but Let’s Get Divorced makes fun of you for believing.

I’d like to consider myself above it, but the show proved otherwise. It left me wanting to believe, and this is where this show moves beyond entertainment and into the realm of deconstructive art.