Jonny’s review published on Letterboxd:
I have been meaning and wanting to watch this film from the moment I heard about it. I never looked up anything about the plot but it’s poster and praise is enough to get anyone excited. My brother saw it and thought it was great and had been begging me to watch it with him, so I did, and yeah it was awesome.
This is just such a well polished and told story from start to finish. It is pretty unique in structure as it has a very clear 3 act which if you have seen the film is quite obvious. The main character of the first act then hardly appears in the second and third. This really separates it from any crime drama I’ve seen. The way information is told and shown is just very intelligent and is always engaging. I was never once bored and it basically just gets straight into the action.
Every single performance and character was absolutely amazing. Because of how the story is told, we are given a lot of time with characters I didn’t expect to get to know which really helped immerse myself into the world. Toshirô Mifune was excellent and had an extremely interesting and emotional arc. From being the rich yet hated businessman, then being put into a situation where his true colours show and then becomes a loved yet poor man. It was very well delivered and that whole aspect of the film was one of my favourites.
Tatsuya Nakadai as the deceive was also extremely well performed and had a very recognisable presence. You can tell that he just wants to catch this guy so badly and wants to see him be punished through his actions and dialogue. His respect for Kingo Gondo throughout the film just increases and their final meet was actually pretty emotional.
This film is also beautiful shot. In the first third, many of the shots are far back, showing all the characters in one frame. This is a very satisfying watch as I was able to pick up on a lot of subtle facial performances and I’m sure I still mist loads. The second and third acts have a lot more variants in presentation as some of the shots are up close with some have swooping motions. This different variants of film making was always refreshing and never felt reused or old.
The production was always note worthy and feel like it influenced certain films which is always nice to pick up on. The whole visual of the house, towering over the city is really puts the whole film into perspective and even though I do think the villains motivations are a bit extreme, the visual is one that does help me understand why he’s doing this.
Anyway, this is a fantastic film from Kurosawa who out of the three films I’ve seen from him, two have been excellent. If he keeps this up, he will definitely become one of my top directors. If you haven’t seen this then please do check it out as I feel like any fan of film can enjoy this.