Eye On

Rent a Friend

Rent a Friend Feature Image

Do platonic friendships between the sexes really exist? Despite a lack of personal experience, columnist Nasa thinks it’s possible. After a chance encounter with a charming friend-for-hire, she contrives to use his rented friendship to fuel a new article series exploring the topic. Intrigued by rented friend Sota’s concept of a “friendship-romance switch”, Nasa secretly sets out to test their individual limits but quickly finds herself in too deep. When Nasa’s vocalist roommate also finds an easy connection with Sota through their shared passion for music, a messy triangle blurring the lines of friendship and “something more” emerges. 
– (Australian Center for the Moving Image)

Akiyama Mayu’s feature length debut is one of those movies that should be immediately relatable. Not quite a “battle of the sexes,” the movie does pose a question to the audience which has no right answer, but most likely opinions of which fall along gender lines. Akiyama, herself, was inspired by an article about “rental friends.” It prompted her to actually rent one herself whom she interviewed much like the protagonist. Thus began her journey to tell this story.

Akiyama is a company employee working full time. She shot this movie by using up her savings and shooting over 10 days, taking a week off of work plus two weekends. She stated during a Q&A at the 2018 Tokyo International Film Festival that she “had a deadline to submit the film to the Moosic Lab festival. I started pre-production in January and we had to finish in June. I like to spend as much time on things as possible, so it was great to have a deadline so that I wouldn’t keep working on it forever.” The resulting work looks to be a solid entry into the age-old debate on whether platonic relationships are real or just mirages. For the record, at the same Q&A Akiyama did state she doesn’t believe it’s possible.

Her latest work is directing one of the segments of Kamata Prelude which was produced by actress Matsubayashi Urara and is the closing film at the 2020 Osaka Asian Film Festival. Her segment is titled “Kagawa Rapsody.”