In Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s triptych of short films, coincidence and chance encounters interrupt the fragile reality of waking life. Alternately playful, comedic, and cynical, WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY plumbs the theatrical depths hidden beneath simple stories: an unexpected love triangle, an attempt to seduce and blackmail a professor, and a meeting between two old friends. Hamaguchi’s eye for conversational nuances and gestures shows us just how much our daily interactions with others are based on acting, role-playing, and misdirection: a prominent theme in many of his other films, including HAPPY HOUR, ASAKO I & II (HIFF 2018), and this year’s DRIVE MY CAR (also playing at the Festival). Appearances deceive, actions lie, and people are not who they seem to be.
Shot partially during the COVID-19 pandemic (a limitation that the film seizes on in an unexpected way), WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY was the winner of a Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear at the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival, where it premiered.