Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Confessions 告白 [ Movie Review ] ****

Every once in a while, a truly disturbing movie comes our way and stayed etched in the minds long after the end credits roll off. Similar to Battle Royale, Confessions used an extreme scenario to highlight and reflect certain issues in our society (or at least perhaps in the Japanese society). It's tense, dark and unflinching movie that grip hold of you tightly right from the start. It also used an innovative flashbacks method to tell the story.  Last but not least, the beautiful cinematography creates just the right type of moody setting and it was nothing less than a visual treat.

But the most satisfying bit about Confessions would be how it dealt with the effective ways of punishing someone who is truly apathetic to his wrongdoing and almost everything else in the world.

Confessions started with a middle school teacher Yoko Moriguchi (Takako Matsu) and her rowdy students. She informed them that her teaching life is coming to an end as her four year old daughter had died from a pool accident. After doing some investigation, she had discovered that her daughter was murdered by two of her students. Identifying them only as student A and student B, Moriguchi revealed that even after learning the shocking truth, she won't be going to the police as due to their age, student A and student B won't be prosecuted by the criminal law. Through the teacher's detailed recounting of what had transpired, the class managed to guess the identity of Student A and B. In a eerily calm and collected manner, she ended her class by informing the class that among the packs of milk that the class had just drank, she had tainted two of them with blood containing HIV.

Usually, such unexpected and surprising revelation would be reserved till the end of a vengeance movie and used as a climax twist or punch to the revenge tale. But in Confessions, this is just an intense wrap up for the introduction arc.

The class started to dish out their brand of punishment on Student A and B. While Student A managed to endure the nightmarish bullying, Student B went crazy and stayed away from school. On the surface, it seemed that the two kids had received their punishment for their atrocities but as the story slowly revealed more shocking truth behind the initial revelation. From the confessions of the class rep, student A and B, we discovered their thought process and the actual motivation behind the horrible murder. It's just bone chilling to learn what the kids truly felt about the whole incident and they are so wrapped up in their own selfish thinkings.

Besides the dynamic tension between the teacher and the students, the film also explored the issues between a child and their mother. On one hand, it cover how the lack of motherly love could fractured a child's growth and on the other hand, it also show how smothering one child could be equally damaging. It's on the extreme bits but somehow these scenarios are heart wrenching to watch.

Beyond the Movie

  • Confessions 告白 is Japan's candidate for the upcoming Oscar Best Foreign Language Film.
  • Was Top of Japan Box Office for 4 weeks in a row.
  • Confessions 告白 made it through the 1st Oscar Best Foreign Language Film nomination round. ( as of 20th Jan 2011)
  • Confessions 告白 is now officially out of the race for Oscar Best Foreign Language Film (as of 26th Jan 2011)
  • Confessions 告白 won 4 awards at the 34th Japan Academy (as of 18th Feb 2011)
  • Picture of the Year: Kokuhaku
  • Director of the Year: Tetsuya Nakashima
  • Screenplay of the Year: Tetsuya Nakashima
  • Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing: Yoshiyuki Koike

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