I’m sorry to have to say that this film was one of the two major disappointments of this year’s MIFF (the other being the execrable Pink Ribbon, possibly the only film in existence to make Japanese soft-core porn completely boring). While promising such excitement, the film devolved into a messy combination of docu-drama and mystery thriller, and failed to live up to any of its promises.
Part of the blame must be laid at the feet of the script-writers. The real story on which the film was based was clearly interesting enough to justify a script, but the resulting film looks as though it was cut into random fragments then hastily reassembled. It didn’t help that dozens of characters were identified with name and position over a frozen screen. Too many characters, too many pauses, too much detail. Yes, it was based on a true story, but the essence of good screen adaptations is to distill the important detail and leave out the rest.
One thing that makes this film particularly disappointing is that there are some fine actors here. Tetsuya Watari, a veteran actor with a career spanning 40 years, gives a fine performance as usual. The omnipresent Ren Osugi, a favourite of directors Kitano Takeshi and Miike Takashi, has a small role to which he lends an air of melancholy. Other cast members also turn in good performances, but the composition is just too piecemeal to be either coherent or enjoyable.