Josh Keown’s review:
"Moriguchi is a demon."
-Yuko Shimomura (Yoshino Kimura)
I’m not even sure where to begin on writing a review for Confessions. It’s truly one of the most thought-provoking and emotionally draining films I’ve seen in a long time.
Confessions is a psychological thriller written and directed by Tetsuya Nakashima and based upon the award winning 2008 novel by Kanae Minato. To say too much would ruin the experience, but it’s fair to say this film is riveting and utterly compelling from the first scene through to the last.
The plot is pure perfection, plain and simple. The story unfolds through the confessions of a number of characters, hence the title, often the same tale from another perspective. Each is woven together masterfully, and add a new layer to one of the most complexly haunting and harrowing stories I have ever experienced.
The acting is phenomenal, truly magnificent, and from the entire cast too. Not one actress or actor is out of place. Just one close-up of the eyes of any cast member expresses a thousand emotions at once. You can feel the fear, the sorrow, the hatred, burning inside. Takako Matsu is just sublime in the lead with a genuinely horrifying yet touching performance. All the students are excellent too, especially the three that are pivotal to the plot. Each character is so believable, so human, one cannot help but associate with their pain.
The cinematography and the director’s use of colour add to the film’s oppressively bleak atmosphere. Neither a frame nor scene is wasted, every single second serves to fuel the film in its entirety. The palate is suitably dark and colourless, much like the film itself. This is not a colour-filled, wonderful tale of redemption, but rather a brutally uncompromising look at life. Nakashima shows assured and skilled direction throughout,
Moreover, Confessions attempts to grasp some extremely important issues, especially within the social context of Japan. Bullying, abuse, discrimination and suicide are all explored in passive depth by the director, whom presents them with an unflinching truth.
Motherhood is another major issue we as the audience are forced to confront, an aspect of humanity so universal all will feel some affinity toward it. On one hand there is Yuko Moriguchi, whom is willing to go to any lengths for revenge. Nakashima also delves into the importance of this relationship, how dysfunction can have extremely detrimental effects. He shows this to us through two extremes, one, Naoki’s overbearing mother, blind with her obsession to protect him. The other, Shuya’s mother, cold and callous, so absorbed with success her child is left unloved and desperate.
By the film’s conclusion, however, we are not offered the sweet taste of revenge. In the end, everyone is a victim and a culprit. None are forgivable for their sins, and yet you feel nothing but sympathy for them all. I will admit, even on my second viewing of this film, knowing what would happen, I was almost brought to tears.
As you can probably tell, this is another of those films I would write in great lengths about. I would even call this a nutshell review, as there is simply so much more one could say. There is so much to be read into, to be debated and studied, but I shall try to round things up.
I guess it speaks volumes that I was willing to stay up until 3am to watch this on Film 4 last night. That’s how wonderful this film is.
VERDICT; A lyrically beautiful, yet so incredibly heart-breaking, tale of life, death and revenge. I cannot truly describe the experience. I feel empty. There is no salvation, no catharsis. No emancipation from that which is our greatest demon – ourselves.
4.5/5 or 9/10