This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Alexander Wood’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Damn. Kore-eda’s first dud.
Technically gorgeous as always, but completely shallow, over-convoluted, and emotionally distant compared to not only its companion piece, SHOPLIFTERS, but also basically every other Kore-eda feature. There’s something lacking; a sense of true empathy perhaps, a feeling of genuine connection between characters; that Kore-eda has never lacked before. Even in the uneven THE TRUTH, at least the characters felt intimately connected to each other. Here, the overstuffed plot overwhelms any sense of intimacy between the vast ensemble. Everyone needs to have an overly-emotional moment, a deep complicated flaw grumbling beneath their surface. Someone’s secretly a murderer, another’s been abandoned, another can’t have children, another’s sadness is informed by the fact they’ll never be adopted, another has a secret family that crops up outta fuckin’ nowhere in the film’s last moments, another’s a baby-murderer on the loose, and that same guy whose family popped up outta nowhere? Oh yeah he’s a murderer now, too. Excuse me, but what the fuck is going on here? These are the plot machinations of a wild and off-the-hook Golden Age noir from the 40s, written by a crew of writers from a B-tiered studio. This is not the hyper specific, thematic-focused Kore-eda I know and love. The film tries to accomplish painting a familiar pastiche, of found-family in a culture where family is narrowly defined, but tries to attack this central idea from far too many angles. It’s forty minutes too long, and should have shirked all the murder / detective stuff in favor of a hyper-focused road movie between our scrappy and colorful fivesome in the van. Bae-Doona, for all her gravitas, is completely unnecessary, here.
It’s a shame.