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Released: February 18th 2011 UK)

Director:Tetsuya Nakashima

Stars: Takako Matsu, Yoshino Kimura

Certificate:15 (UK)

Reviewer: Christopher Ejizu

High school teacher Yuko Moriguchi (played by Takako Matsu), is also a grieving mother who plans her revenge on the students that she feels are responsible for the death of her 4-year-old daughter. As the story goes on, we discover a more tangled web has been weaved to reveal what really lies beneath. What is revealed will change the lives of all involved.

I feel that it is one of the most compelling and engaging stories I have seen in cinemas today. Based on the Kanea Minato novel, it is evident that a lot of work and experimentation with the initial dark plot went into the film from the writer Tetsuya Nakashima (who is also the director). The film not only explores the dark undertone of how far people will go, but also implement funny moments to calm the mood at times. The twists and turns that it makes the audience experience during the film are well-sculpted and fit the overall concept, as well as the explanation of the character’s with an ending that leaves you quite satisfied but wanting more at the same time. The way the story is told was a highlight that added to the film’s value.

Similar to Kill Bill and Memento, the story is told through a non-linear narrative; however the film is divided into different segments, where it goes into the perspective of those involved, via their “confessions” of their secrets. As you go through each perspective, it makes you think about various topics, such as bullying, karma, punishment, revenge, children in modern society and the value of life. However, the opinions you have for characters seem to change as you watch each person’s “confessions”.

The cast within the film does a great job in portraying their characters. Takako Matsu plays the role of bereaved mother well, but also is able to apply quaint madness to her now twisted personality; especially in the way she wants those who made her suffer to feel the same. Kaoru Fujiwara and Yukito Nishii play the students Naoki Shimomura and Shuya Watanabe respectively, under the teacher’s wrath really well, with both of them having their individual but demented reasons for their actions and their reactions to the outcomes. Supporting cast such as Yoshino Kimura (Naoki’s mother), Masaki Okada (The Student’s new teacher) and Ai Hashimoto (A student who befriends Shuya later in the film) add more character to the film and have an engaging as well as a highly-developed back-story.
Another feature that complimented the film was the cinematography. Masakazu Ato and Atsushi Ozawa create a really effective and beautiful look to the overall film, with various slow-motion shots that are used right in the context of the story and increase the emotion of the film. Slight subtleties that are used well are heightened by the cinematography and deliver more to the audience.

Other features, such as the brief but beautiful visual effects done by Omnibus Japan and the soundtrack all come together to create a more approachable film and add more emotional colour to the dark story that these characters are engulfed in.

The only side note that I think worked to its disadvantage is the pacing. It feels slow at the initial start of the film which is difficult to engage into when we are establishing what is happening in the story. However, silence is another element used in the film that heightens the drama of the scenes.

Director Tetsuya Nakashima has taken a good novel and has brought the audience a spectacle of a film; he has developed a universe where the line of being a hero or a villain are blurred, changes come in silent but brutal force and gives the audience an experience that’s unmissable and unforgettable.

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