Original Title: Kokuhaku
Starring: Takako Matsu, Yoshino Kimura, Masaki Okada
Directed by: Tetsuya Nakashima
Written By: Tetsuya Nakashima
Rating: NR (US) Running Time: 1 hr 46 min
The director previously made the wonderfully funny and playful “Kamikaze Girls”, and his visual flair and lovely off-center compositions are all here in abundance. The mood and tone are very sombre and dark though. It’s no wonder considering the story and theme, but it’s still wonderfully constructed and compelling.
The story outline may put you off as too grim but it really should be given a viewing as it’s a powerful and intricate story of revenge. I won’t ruin its plot too much, as each revelation is expertly drip fed to us, and allows our emotions to be played with. Each character gets a say and their motivations analyzed and even though the same events get reprised, new details emerge and change our perspectives. The story at its basic starting point is about a teacher who has had her daughter killed, and she decides to carry out an intricate plan on her enemies – two of her own students! As they are minors and would not get put away for murder, she finds a way to make them realize and live with the horror of such a heinous act.
It’s extreme and far-fetched but as the ball gets rolling we learn more and more disturbing details about their motives and how they felt about them. The film amps up the emotion and gets more and more bloody as it leads up to an explosive finale. The editing and style of the film is very well crafted and constantly interesting and even though it’s a very violent tale – most of it is done off camera or at a discreet distance. There is great use of slow motion and music throughout too.
If you want a reminder that children can be evil and confused creatures or a tale of cold calculating revenge – this will reward.
A HD viewing is recommended.
Best moment for me:
The opening scene is really great as the teacher talks to an unruly class, she gets their attention bit by bit as she explains her dark story, and what she is going to do about it. She gives a huge amount of exposition that feels like a self enclosed short film in its own right. It’s very well done and hooks them and ourselves into wanting to know more details and an outcome.