Nozomi (Eiko Koike) is an actress spending her first winter in Tokyo. She returns to her apartment alone after another audition and settles down, hoping for a call from a man in the film business she has fallen in love with, but eventually she curls up on the sofa and falls asleep. Some time later, she is rudely awoken by loud knocking at the door, and she rushes into the hallway to see who it is. Of course, it is her flatmate Lana (Maho Nonami) - also an actress - wanting to get in seeing as how Nozomo has locked up before she got back - the beginning of a rivalry that tonight will boil over...
2LDK was one half of the Duel Project, a two director escapade that came about when the previous anthology they were working on finished before time. This meant there was some of the budget left, and this film, scripted by director Yukihiko Tsutsumi, with its counterpart Aragami were the result of an eight day shoot inspired by the producer. 2LDK was filmed in sequence, so that the deterioration of the central relationship (the two stars are the only people we ever see here) could be better mapped out.
In some ways, once you know the premise you pretty much know all there is to find out about the film. As it's just over an hour long, there's no time to get bored, but if it wasn't for the naked aggression on display in the second half this would seem flimsy stuff. Nozomi and Lana may share an apartment, but the only other thing they have in common is their ambition to be movie stars (they're vying for the same role) and they grate on each other's nerves from the outset, as we hear in voiceover.
Nozomi is a country girl, not as wealthy as Lana, just another reason why they are incompatible. However, the more experienced Lana seems to be getting the upper hand in the love life stakes, as the man Nozomi has her eye on is also being singled out by her flatmate. But it's the little things that really niggle with the women, as Nozomi is obsessed with the possibility that Lana is using her stuff, even to the extent of marking the food in the fridge with their initials so one won't use the other's.
There's not so much a simmering tension as a patient wait for all this to erupt into violence. Neither of the women is entirely blameless, although Lana is supposed to have caused the suicide of the wife of one of the men she has had an affair with (she sees visions of her in the bathroom) which in theory would make her less sympathetic, but Nozomi is so prissy and exacting that she doesn't exactly endear herself either. For that reason we don't feel much sorrow when the protagonists begin beating one another up in a display of sadism that ends with an ironic punchline that will probably have you rolling your eyes. If catfights are your thing, 2LDK represents a feast for your palate.
[The Duel Project is available on Tartan's Asia Extreme Region 2 double disc DVD, along with two featurettes and a trailer.]