|Moriguchi Yuko gives her talk to class!|
A fair amount of movies don’t stay with you long after the closing credits, but I have found that several modern Japanese films buck this trend. Films like Departures (2008) Still Walking (2008) Tony Takitani (2004) and the sublime Norwegian Wood (2010) all lend themselves to second viewings. Another film I can add to this eminent list is the psychological drama Confessions (2010) directed by Tetsuya Nakashima. It was selected as the Japanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards (won by Denmark’s A Better World (2010)).
|Never talk to strangers.|
Based on the best selling novel Kokuhaku by Minto Kanae the film opens with a 30-minute monologue being given to a badly behaved 7th grade class of teenagers. This soliloquy is the stories first confession, delivered by the Middle School teacher Moriguchi Yuko (Matsu Takako, Hero (2007) The Hidden Blade (2004)) who gradually manages to elicit the children’s full attention by explaining how a horrendous murder had taken place, perpetrated by two of these very attentive students. At first it seems to be a simple story but the deeper into the film we get the more we realise the ever darker reasons for, and the implications that arise from, this crime. We are treated, if that’s the right word, to a series of further ‘confessions’ that can be uncomfortable viewing but never less than enthralling.
Clever, imaginative and engrossing and helped by intercut scenes it builds tension brilliantly from what is perceived to be a slow start. It communicates in a way that allows us total belief in what we are seeing. It has an inspired, appropriate soundtrack that includes Radio Head’s Last Flowers. Publicity for the film depicts it as a vengeance drama, but I can assure you that it’s not like any other vengeance drama you have ever seen. This class piece of filmmaking is highly recommended and yes I did watch it a second time!