Sing in Love is a Japanese BL movie about a teacher who experiences sexual assault trauma. A violent predator attacks the main character in the middle of the night, leaving him psychologically scarred. Despite reporting the crime, the police haven't made an arrest. Suddenly, the abuser initiates contact and taunts his victim. The protagonist's anger and fear send his life on a dangerous downward spiral.
I didn't enjoy Sing in Love the first time I watched it. The disturbing plot, distressing topics, and disgusting behaviour made me extremely uncomfortable. Upon a rewatch, the narrative themes sink in more clearly. This movie explores sexual assault trauma and its psychological torment through a dark, twisted lens. It's supposed to provoke and unnerve you. Despite gaining clarity over the messages, I still feel conflicted about this outrageous film.
Sing in Love Summary
1 hour and 55 minutes
Dark and toxic
Yes, there is a gay couple.
Jin works as a substitute teacher at a high school. He has earned the respect of his students and peers. Based on his current performance, Jin is on track to secure a full-time position. Outside of his career, Jin and his wife, Hitomi, enjoy a blissful marriage. The young couple has no children.
One evening, Jin is on his way after work. He stops by the park to take a break. Suddenly, a man emerges from the shadows and attacks him. The unknown assailant overpowers Jin, subdues him, and forcibly removes his clothes. The predator sexually assaults Jin, who is powerless to fight back.
After the attack, Jin reports his rape to the police. Despite their promises to investigate the case, they could not find any leads. Three months later, the police still haven't made an arrest. Meanwhile, Jin tries to put aside the traumatic incident and move on. Jin hasn't told his wife what happened. Nonetheless, she is suspicious. Behind her back, he starts seeing a therapist and confides in the professional.
One day, a young man named Kai approaches Jin and reveals he is the abuser. Kai taunts his victim and laughs about the incident, calling himself a hunter. He attacks Jin, who falls unconscious. Jin wakes up and finds himself in an abandoned lot occupied by Kai's friends. Kai reveals to everyone what happened to Jin. He also threatens to hurt his wife.
A humiliated Jin tries confronting his nemesis, but Kai and his buddies fight back. The group overpowers the teacher. Kai provokes Jin further by going on stage and performing a rap about the sexual assault. Jin lashes out at him on stage. Yet, Kai's friends filmed the violent encounter. The footage leaks to the school, destroying the teacher's reputation. Jin goes on the warpath and threatens to get revenge on Kai.
Sing in Love Trailer
Sing in Love Cast
Yu Inaba (稲葉友)
Jin is a substitute teacher at a high school. He is in a blissful marriage with his wife, Hitomi. One evening, a predator ambushes Jin at the park and sexually assaults him. Despite filing a police report, there has been no arrest. The trauma of the incident sends Jin into a downward spiral.
Yu Inaba (稲葉友) is a Japanese actor. He is born on January 12, 1993. His first BL project is the 2021 drama, Given. He also appeared in Minato's Laundromat (2022) and its sequel Minato's Laundromat 2 (2023). His first BL starring role is Sing in Love (2022).
Kenshin Endo (遠藤健慎)
Kai is a young man who works at the junkyard. He runs various errands for his boss, Mamiya. Three months after Jin's sexual assault, Kai reveals he is the assailant who attacked him. Kai taunts Jin and mocks his abuse, announcing it to everyone around them. His full name is Kaizuka Yuta.
Honami Sato (さとうほなみ)
Rion Takahashi (髙橋里恩)
Shingo Mizusawa (水澤紳吾)
Toshihito Kokubo (小久保寿人)
Asuka Kurosawa (黒沢あすか)
Sing in Love Review
Movie Review Score: 5.5
Sing in Love stirs intense emotions in me, primarily shock, fury, outrage, and disgust. Early on, the protagonist's gruesomely depicted sexual assault horrified me. I was even more disturbed when his attacker returned and taunted him about the abuse. His vileness strained every moral fibre in my body. In addition to feeling uncomfortable, I was also baffled by the characters' behaviour. I couldn't understand why the victim and his aggressor interacted when they should've stayed the hell away from each other.
I hated Sing in Love after finishing it. Typically, I'd erase the awful experience from my mind and never touch the movie again. However, I force myself to rewatch it for the sake of this review. During the second viewing, I calm down without letting emotions cloud my judgment. As a result, I gain clarity over the film's narrative themes. While I still find the explicit scenes troubling, I recognize the director intends to provoke the audience. Sing in Love wants us to confront the harsh realities of sexual assault. The story is supposed to be ugly, unsettling, and upsetting.
Sing in Love explores the psychological torment of sexual assault through a dark, twisted lens. Beyond the physical injuries, the protagonist suffers from emotional scars that cause him to derail his life. He tries to stick by his old routine for a few months, but Kai's arrival triggers Jin's inner demons. The film conveys that returning to normalcy is impossible for some survivors, no matter how much they repress their trauma. Jin goes on a downward spiral, hitting different stages of agony. Sing in Love gives a raw examination of the victim's pain, from humiliation to helplessness.
The movie isn't easy to understand. Kai is an enigma and hides his thoughts most of the time. After you demystify Kai's perspective, it unlocks the central messages of the plot. The general gist is that you must hit rock bottom before recovery begins. Once you stop feeling ashamed of the trauma, you turn your victimhood into empowerment. While the movie's ideas are fascinating, its execution is clunky. It doesn't introduce the characters properly or clarify their motivations. The complicated story will perplex first-time viewers, yet rewatching the film feels mentally draining.
I classify Sing in Love as BL since there's same-sex intimacy in the film's second half. However, romance is far from my mind after all the brutal events earlier in the story. This depressing movie contains no sweet lovey-dovey moments. Although there are a few sexual encounters, they don't feel particularly enticing. I also think the couple's connection and bonding scenes are weak. Regardless, both leads are decent in their roles. Jin's actor (Yu Inaba) catches my eye. This earnest performer captures his character's shock, fear, and vulnerability, especially at the start.
Sing in Love strides towards a happy ending as the characters find solace from their trauma. Yet, the final scene thrusts them into a world of pain again. Ugh, I'm exhausted. The movie always does too much, from constant twists to nonstop drama. The narrative is overloaded with heavy storylines that muddle the messages it wants to convey. Deciphering the convoluted plot becomes a burden than a pleasure. Maybe some of the meaningful allegories elude me, but I no longer have the energy to dissect them. Sing in Love is a distressing film I don't plan to revisit ever again.
Sing in Love is a dark, twisted story that explores the psychological torment of sexual assault trauma. The complicated movie isn't easy to understand. I'm also exhausted from the mentally draining drama.
Although the film contains same-sex intimacy, I can't focus on romance after all the disturbing events earlier. There are no sweet lovey-dovey scenes. The couple's connection doesn't persuade me.
Both leads do a decent job with their material. I adore the vibes from Jin's actor (Yu Inaba). This earnest performer captures the shock, fear, and distressing emotions, especially at the start of his trauma.
Sing in Love has a sad ending for the leads. After finding solace from their trauma, the final scene thrusts them into a world of pain again. The nonstop drama in this movie feels convoluted.
The movie captures a raw, gritty feeling with its visuals. It reflects a sombre atmosphere that fits the story. I'm not a fan of the camera's shakiness in some scenes, although it's an intentional artistic choice.
Sing in Love is a distressing movie that explores sexual assault trauma through a dark lens. Despite the intriguing themes, the constant drama and intense emotions exhaust me as a viewer.
Sing in Love Movie Explained
Sing in Love doesn't hold back in depicting the ugliness of sexual assault. In addition to the horrifying physical encounter at the park, it highlights the psychological torment that comes afterwards. One of the movie's most disturbing scenes is when Kai taunts Jin about the abuse. From calling him a "slut" to the graphic descriptions of the rape, I felt incredibly uncomfortable. I almost wanted to turn off the movie and take an extended mental health break. Holy crap, this film is intense!
As loathsome as Kai's words may be, they reflect the traumatizing thoughts that crossed Jin's mind since his sexual assault. He never voiced them aloud. However, these toxic beliefs infiltrated his self-esteem and manifested for many months. The reality is that Jin lives through the trauma each day in his head. He constantly thinks about what happened to him. As Jin revisits the incident, again and again, the memories become poisonous. Trauma has twisted his perspective. He reproaches himself for the attack and feels like a "slut". Jin even avoids his wife because his touch is "dirty".
Jin never shares his anguish with anyone, even though his mind is spinning out of control. He doesn't tell his wife. He also doesn't confide in his therapist and only reveals superficial details. Jin keeps the darkest and most self-destructive ideas to himself. Yet, Kai sees right through him. As a victim himself, he knows what the teacher is thinking. Kai makes the bold move of voicing these ugly thoughts aloud. Instead of suppressing them in a dark corner of Jin's mind, Kai exposes the truth publicly. Only when Jin confronts his trauma can his healing finally begin.
Three months after the sexual assault, the culprit still hasn't been arrested. Understandably, Jin is getting antsy. An unknown evildoer roams the streets and hides in the shadows. He can be anyone around him. Maybe the creep is even stalking him from afar. Jin lives in constant fear, worrying his attacker may return and hurt him again. Notice how he suddenly reacts to nothing while waiting at a bus station. He feels unsafe in public.
Kai isn't the one who attacked Jin. Yet, he tells an outrageous lie and pretends to be the aggressor. Kai wants to assign a name and a face to the unknown assailant. He believes doing so will help Jin cope with his trauma. Not knowing who the aggressor is can be very unnerving to the victim's mental health. Who is the rapist around me!? The uncertainty eats away at Jin's mental state, day after day. Kai volunteers to be the culprit and absorbs the blame. That way, Jin doesn't need to doubt everyone around him anymore. Direct all his hatred toward Kai instead.
Kai goes one step further and acts on Jin's fears. He vandalizes Hitomi's house and threatens to hurt her. Kai's motivations are unclear, but I believe he does so to push Jin and his wife closer together. He behaves like the bad guy to make Jin open up and tell his partner what happened. Force that confession out of him. Once Jin shares his darkest secret, Hitomi can become his confidante. Unfortunately, Kai's plan backfires. Instead of telling the truth, Jin acts aggressively so his wife will leave him. He believes their separation keeps her safe from the aggressor.
Secrecy stems from shame. Jin doesn't tell Hitomi about his sexual assault because he feels disgusted with himself. The trauma is like a stain on his body that he can never wash away. Tellingly, Jin opens up to the police and the therapist, but not his closest loved one. He can talk about the attack from a professional distance. Yet, he fears sharing his experience in a more personal setting. His reluctance shows that Jin faces intimacy issues after being violated.
The traumatic experience profoundly shatters Jin's certainty about the pillars of his life, including his desires. Like many victims, he loses his sex drive and doesn't want to engage in physical affection. Jin's inability to be intimate with his wife sends him down a rabbit hole. He starts becoming confused about his sexuality. Jin, who previously identified as a straight man, searches for gay keywords online and visits a prostitute. These erratic actions come from Jin's inner turmoil. He doesn't know himself anymore. He's lost and looking for an explanation that would validate his emptiness.
Jin's life doesn't fall apart right away. He tries returning to his old routine for a few months, pretending like nothing has happened. Yet, this normalcy is only a facade. The more Jin represses his trauma, the less stable his emotions become. Kai can easily provoke a severe response from Jin with just a few words, showing that his psychological wounds are still fresh. Likewise, he unleashes violently around his wife. Despite his attempts to move past the trauma, Jin isn't on his way to recovery. Instead, his condition worsens. He is headed towards destruction.
Kai wants to help Jin recover from his sexual assault trauma. However, Kai's plan radically differs from therapy or conventional means of healing. His method involves knocking Jin down to the lowest point in his life. When you have nothing to lose, you have nothing to fear. Kai causes Jin to surrender his marriage, career, and reputation. After these enormous sacrifices, there's a sense of liberation because you no longer worry about further loss or failure. You are free from the weight of maintaining expectations.
Furthermore, Kai helps Jin destigmatize talking about his sexual assault. Jin felt ashamed about what had happened to him. He'd get embarrassed by the list of dirty trigger words. However, Kai brings Jin's trauma to the open instead of keeping it a disgraceful secret. Kai makes public announcements and describes the abuse in graphic detail. Once Jin works through the humiliation, he realizes the topic doesn't hold a debilitating power over him. Being truthful about his raw, ugly experiences will set him free. Jin isn't silent or secretive anymore.
In addition, Kai takes Jin to get self-defence lessons, one of the best ways to empower sexual assault survivors. The fighting skills give Jin a sense of agency over his body and safety. He takes his protection into his own hands. The lessons also allow him to restore confidence. He makes progress in improving himself instead of cowering and feeling helpless. Although Kai helps Jin in various ways, he does so indirectly. Kai hides his intentions and pretends to be antagonistic. That, too, is part of his plan. Jin's hatred fuels his motivation to become a better version of himself.
Kai encourages Jin to rap about his abuse. Rap is a therapeutic medium, allowing him to tell his story and reclaim his narrative. It seems especially suitable for a former language teacher like Jin since rap is a musical form of poetry. As he raps, the performance provides a cathartic release. Jin finds his voice and unleashes all his repressed emotions. It marks an empowering breakthrough in his recovery. This sexual assault survivor isn't afraid to share his experiences candidly. The singing in the film's title refers to his self-expression.
I'm unsure what to make of Jin's lyrics. Based on my rough interpretation, I can glean several overarching themes. Firstly, Jin raps about the tranquillity of nature during simpler times. He may be alluding to his blissful life beforehand. Secondly, he mentions hearing an unknown fife. That may represent his complex emotions when revisiting painful memories. Lastly, he ends the rap by highlighting the passage of time. That may imply progress in his healing journey. The final line, "fish will have tears in their eyes", echoes Jin's sorrow as he confronts the trauma.
After performing the rap, Jin gains the courage to express himself. The most telling sign is when he meets with his wife. Jin finally admits to being attacked over a year ago. This secret used to bring him so much shame and anguish. Now, it is a faded scar that he can reference directly. Jin and Hitomi don't reconcile due to too much painful history between them. "Even law cannot protect love," she laments. Despite their regrets, the former lovers part ways with mutual understanding and respect. Most importantly, Jin can confront his trauma instead of repressing it.
Sing in Love was almost headed toward a happy ending. Firstly, the perpetrator gets killed. Secondly, the leads find solace after their trauma. And lastly, they consummate their love in the woods, delivering the juicy BL content. But then, everything goes to hell in the last few minutes. Mamiya springs up from the dead like a mummy, kills Jin, and then dies again. WTF. I don't even know if the scene is real or not. At this point, I throw my arms up in exasperation. I'm so over this movie! 😫
After the series of unfortunate events, Kai escapes unscathed. The last shot of the movie shows him taking out a lighter and flicking on the flame. I believe that's a metaphor for his drive to live. As Survivor's Jeff Probst always says, fire represents life. Despite facing another devastating trauma, Kai doesn't lose his willpower. His fire hasn't diminished. The flame that Jin lit inside Kai continues burning. Even his lover's sudden death won't faze him. Kai has found the resolve to keep living, fighting, and persevering.
Kai has a tragic backstory. He was attacked at a young age and inducted into a life of crime. Worst of all, he worked as Mamiya's underling. The same man who violated him was his boss, like the unhealthiest relationship ever. Kai gave up on escape and submitted himself to a vicious cycle of abuse. Yet, Jin's arrival sparked a change. As Jin overcame his pain, his journey inspired Kai. It was possible to break free from trauma and forge a new path. Despite Jin's death, Kai carries this newfound willpower into the future. He will continue living with an eternal fire in his heart.
Sing in Love Information
Sing in Love, also known as Koi Kogare Utgae, is a Japanese movie that released on May 27, 2022. It is a long film, which you can finish around 1 hour and 55 minutes. Izuru Kumasaka (熊坂出) is the movie director.
The Sing in Love movie is based on a manga, Koi Kogare Utgae (恋い焦れ歌え～R.I.P.～). Its creator is Miso.