Originally named Kanojo (which can mean ‘her’ or ‘girlfriend’) in Japanese, Ride or Die follows the traces after two women who conspire a grotesque murder together.
The two protagonists, Rei (Kiko Mizuhara) and Nanae (Honami Sato) seem to have no intersection point in their adult life at the beginning of the film. We know right from the start that Rei is a well-to-do plastic surgeon in a stable relationship with another woman. Her family, though loving and supportive, is in the dark of her being a lesbian, given that the identity is presumably very much stigmatized in the context of the story.
The misdirection of the state of their relationship dominates throughout the development of the storyline
On the other hand, Nanae, being an old acquaintance of Rei, is a long-suffering victim of domestic violence. The misdirection of the state of their relationship dominates throughout the development of the storyline. The story then attempts to explore their defiance against the society and possibly patriarchy through their careful probing of each other’s feelings.
The intertextual choice to bring singer-songwriter YUI’s popular Che.r.ry as theme song is brilliant not only in the way that it evokes nostalgia from the audience (for those who are familiar with Japanese pop culture), but also in the attempt to extract the bittersweet essence of a newly sprouted love. The choice also hints that behind the gruesome crime committed by Rei and the cruelty and seemingly indifferent attitude from Nanae, there’s a shy and insecure affection rooted from their youth all along.
All the criminality and distortedness on the surface is a grand romantic gesture in response to the two’s reticence in love after all. They carefully measure their distance in this relationship as the ambiguity from the original title suggests: they could be irrelevant strangers as in a third-person pronoun, just as much as they could be intimate lovers as in a referent.
Towards the end of the story and their exile, they seem to finally reach the equality between their relationship and come to terms with mundane stigmatization from the society
Starting off being tangled with financial benefits and blurred boundary between different sexualities, Ride or Die manages to resolve those ambiguities with a raw and daring romantic manifestation. Towards the end of the story and their exile, they seem to finally reach the equality between their relationship and come to terms with mundane stigmatization from the society.
However, there are some regrets in the film that the director seems to be rather immature or indecisive in the ways to process the sensitiveness of same-sex relationship. The suspicion of male gaze haunts the bulk of Rei and Nanae’s relationship development, and this air also dangerously borders on reducing the duo to lesbian stereotypes. This shortcoming shadows the film’s potential to become a feminist saga and to further challenge the audience’s preconceptions about love, law and subverting the latter for the sake of the former.
In-article images courtesy of @rideordienetflixfilm via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.
For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.