Flowers of Evil has by far the juiciest plot twist of the week: Kasuga has betrayed his beloved Baudelaire in favor of Philip K. Dick! What a scumbag!
Apologies for getting to this later than usual. The last few days have not been particularly kind to me. Hopefully this will not become A Thing. That would be nice.
That Nakamura … she’s definitely something, all right. I’m still having trouble getting a proper handle on her. It seems as if she feels a genuine connection with Kasuga; in him, she sees a deviancy that resonates with her. She is an odd person, to say the least. The way she expresses that connection, however, is excruciatingly difficult to watch. It’s basically an extreme example of the “love expressed through abuse” thing that the young’uns love so much. Nakamura gives Kasuga an inordinate amount of attention through the awful things she puts him through. Yet, it’s difficult for me to say she’s doing this precisely because she likes Kasuga or feels some connection with him or whatever.
What she does seems like it’s partially a scientific experiment. Nakamura forcefully strips Kasuga and forces him to wear Saeki’s gym clothes to see how he’ll react. Will he like it? Will he hate it? Does it make him feel anything in particular? And it also seems like she’s playing a sort of power game with Kasuga — she has something she can lord over him, and she can get her way whenever she wants. But then this is mixed with her intense curiosity about Kasuga; the whole situation is just so emotionally confusing, haha.
I think Nakamura’s power game is definitely contrasted with the more general power game of the classroom. The kids love enforcing this system of tiers through emotional bullying. It doesn’t take long at all for the situation to become more about putting the weirdos in their place rather than finding this girl’s lunch money. Guilt is slung about because the group thinks Nakamura is guilty; when Kasuga calls that shaky line of logic out, he’s told that he should shut his mouth and go read in the corner, because fuck you, nerd! The social stratification of the classroom feels harsh and empty. Anyone who is different is struck down purely for being different. It’s a soulless exercise. Whereas with Nakamura, while I would hesitate to call her behavior “good,” it at least feels as if it could have some emotional core behind it? Fuck, I don’t know.
When I’ve watched Flowers of Evil so far, particularly the parts with Nakamura, I couldn’t help but have Todd Solondz’s Welcome to the Dollhouse on my mind. That’s probably the most accurate movie I’ve seen about the emotional feeling of being in middle school, because everyone surrounding you is a shithead, but you’re also a shithead. When I see Nakamura, I see Dawn Wiener with actual power. She doesn’t give a shit about her peers, and when she sees something she wants, she gets it, no matter how twisted it is. In a way, she’s gamed the middle school experience. She can stare her teachers down. The insults of her classmates bounce off her. She has her own emotional slave. Honestly, that’s probably the most gratifying middle school experience anyone could ask for.