First Love (2019 film)

First Love (Japanese: 初恋, Hepburn: Hatsukoi) is a 2019 crime thriller film directed by Takashi Miike.[7][4] It tells the story of a boxer and a call girl who become unwittingly involved in a drug-smuggling scheme. The film premiered on 17 May 2019 in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, before being released in theaters in the UK and Japan in early 2020.[10][11]

First Love
First Love (2019 film).jpg
Festival poster, illustrated by Katsuya Terada
Directed byTakashi Miike
Produced by
Screenplay byMasaru Nakamura
Story byMuneyuki Kii[1]
Music byKoji Endo
CinematographyNobuyashu Kita
Edited byAkira Kamiya
Distributed by
Release date
  • 17 May 2019 (2019-05-17) (Cannes)[3][4]
  • 14 February 2020 (2020-02-14) (United Kingdom)[5]
  • 28 February 2020 (2020-02-28) (Japan)[2]
Running time
108 minutes[5][7]
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom[7]
Box office$366,247[8][9]


A young boxer Leo was abandoned as a child and has no family. He works at a Chinese restaurant in Kabukichō, Tokyo as his day job. After losing a match, he is told by a doctor that he suffers a brain tumor. To pay off her abusive father's debts, a young girl Yuri, who uses the pseudonym Monica, is forced to be a call girl and a drug addict. She sometimes sees hallucinations of her father and her estranged former classmate. She is trapped by a yakuza Yasu and his girlfriend Julie in an apartment, which is used as one of the drug dealing hubs.

A yakuza Kase and a corrupt cop Ōtomo plan a drug-smuggling scheme. One night, Ōtomo takes Yuri out of the apartment. When she tries to run away from Ōtomo and a hallucination of her father, she encounters with Leo on the street. Leo hits Ōtomo in the face and decides to help Yuri. Kase goes to the apartment and steals the drugs, but he accidentally kills Yasu in the process.

Kase makes a Chinese triad man abduct Julie to stop her for a while. Julie kills the man and goes back to the apartment, learning that Yasu was killed by someone. Assuming that the Chinese triad stole the drugs and abducted Yuri, an old-school yakuza Gondō goes out with his colleagues to find Yuri. Around the same time, Chiachi, who is a female member of the Chinese triad, and her colleagues are also sent to find Yuri.

Kase and Ōtomo find Leo and Yuri and capture them. The four are attacked by both the yakuza and the Chinese triad. Multiple killings occur in a deserted warehouse store. There, Leo has a phone call from a doctor and learns that he does not have any illness. With the help from Gondō and Chiachi, Leo and Yuri succeed to escape from the store.

Leo continues to pursue his career as a boxer and Yuri struggles to overcome drug addiction in a hospital. On a snowy day, the two enter an apartment together.



The film had its world premiere in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival on 17 May 2019.[12] It was also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, and Fantastic Fest.[13]

The film was first released in cinemas in the United States and Canada, several months before it was released in either of its countries of origin, on 27 September 2019, distributed by Well Go USA Entertainment.[14] It was released in cinemas in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 14 February 2020, distributed by Signature Entertainment,[15] and in Japan two weeks later, on 28 February 2020, distributed by Toei.[16]


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 103 reviews, and an average rating of 7.7/10. The website s critical consensus reads, "First Love's blend of violence, comedy, and romance might seem disparate -- but for director Takashi Miike, it's just another wildly entertaining entry in a filmography full of them."[17] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 77 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[18]

Mike D Angelo of The A.V. Club gave the film a grade of B+, writing, "First Love ranks among Miike's most purely entertaining movies (out of more than 100 now!), gradually building steam until it reaches a sustained pitch of cheerful insanity."[19] Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter commented that "the Tarantino-style rollercoaster ride is as effortlessly enjoyable as ever, accentuating the director's lighter comic leanings over his bloodthirsty side."[20] David Ehrlich of IndieWire praised Shota Sometani's performance, stating, "Sometani is particularly brilliant as the yakuza screw-up who never misses a chance to scratch off one of his enemies and climb a rung on the ladder, even if he seems to sink lower with every decision he makes."[21]


  1. ^ "窪田正孝と小西桜子が"聖地"に興奮、三池崇史監督作「初恋」引っさげカンヌで会見". Natalie (in Japanese). 16 May 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b "三池崇史「初恋」予告解禁、窪田正孝、小西桜子、大森南朋、染谷将太ら入り乱れる". Natalie (in Japanese). 26 December 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b "First Love Press Kit English" (PDF). HanWay Films. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Hatsukoi – Directors' Fortnight". French Directors' Guild. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d "First Love". British Board of Film Classification. 20 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  6. ^ "三池崇史×窪田正孝「初恋」がカンヌ映画祭へ「バイオレンスよ、さらば!!」". Natalie (in Japanese). 26 April 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Leader, Michael (23 May 2019). "First Love first look: Miike Taskashi pits yakuza against triads in a gonzo frenzy". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Hatsukoi (2019)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  9. ^ "First Love". Box Office Mojo. IMDbPro. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  10. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (4 April 2019). "Cannes: Deerskin with Jean Dujardin to open Directors' Fortnight". Variety. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  11. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (23 April 2019). "Cannes Directors' Fortnight unveils genre-heavy 2019 selection". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  12. ^ "三池崇史の「初恋」カンヌで世界初上映、"ありがちなタイトル"を付けた理由とは". Natalie (in Japanese). 18 May 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  13. ^ Grater, Tom (5 December 2019). "Takashi Miike On His Hollywood "Longing", New Movie 'First Love' & Why Japan's Film Industry Is "Dying" – Macao". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  14. ^ Collis, Clark (3 September 2019). "Watch the extreme trailer for Takashi Miike's comedy-thriller First Love". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  15. ^ Goh, Katie (10 February 2020). "First Love". The Skinny. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  16. ^ Schlling, Mark (27 February 2020). "'First Love': A heartfelt throwback to the golden age of yakuza flicks". The Japan Times. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  17. ^ "First Love". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  18. ^ "First Love". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  19. ^ D'Angelo, Mike (24 September 2019). "Lunatic crime comedy First Love is one of Takashi Miike's most madly entertaining movies". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  20. ^ Dalton, Stephen (17 May 2019). "'First Love' ('Hatsukoi'): Film Review | Cannes 2019". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  21. ^ Ehrlich, David (17 May 2019). "'First Love' Review: Takashi Miike Delivers a Violently Hilarious Yakuza Romp". IndieWire. Retrieved 4 March 2020.

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