Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jmovie review: Confessions/Kokuhaku

The Jmovie that I have been waiting for this year. Matsu Takako in a dark revenge flick sounds like a recipe for awesomeness. The dark revenge genre has always been a staple of Kmovies and I have seen quite a few. The words dark and edgy usually don't usually apply to Jmovies but with Matsu Takako's star power, hopefully the producers won't decide they have to tone it down to appeal to the masses.

Confessions starts off with Matsu Takako as a teacher, Moriguchi Yuko who is teaching in a noisy middle school class that is noisy and attentive. Moriguchi returns confiscated JAV back to a student who apparently has removed the mosaic. Note to self, look for mosaic removing software after this post. Moriguchi tells her class that this will be her last month as their teacher and the class celebrates.

Moriguchi then tells the class about her past with some pretty shocking revelations which slowly quietens the rowdy students. She talks about her recently deceased daughter and tells the class that she has found out that her daughter was murdered by two students of the class, A and B and at the end begins her plan of revenge. This half hour scene was absolutely gripping with simple guitar chords serving as a backdrop and I felt like the students getting more attentive throughout each revelation.

What follows is the aftereffects of her revenge on A and B as it causes havoc in the lives of both students and the class. Basically the bulk of the movie concentrates on the lives of A and B, their past including how they ended up as killers and how they deal with their crime. This is when I started getting bored with the movie because frankly, I don't care about A and B. I don't care about their past though it is important for Moriguchi's revenge because they spent too long on them.

Its as if the writer/director wants to give A and B and excuse or make them more rounded characters but I found it neither interesting and became bored with apathy. Even the twist about the crime was boring because I just want to see Moriguchi's revenge! Screw details about A and B's past and how fucked up they are. Aren't revenge flicks about arousing the audience's desire to see the villains get their comeuppance?

Confessions seemed to rely on the revelations and twists to carry the pacing of the movie after Matsu Takako's brilliant first 30 minutes but they are inconsequential and a bore. I guess the great twist of the movie as the audience thinking that Moriguchi's revenge was achieved after 30 minutes but that was only the beginning. Well its a bloody fucking obvious 'twist' that shouldn't even be called a revelation. Maybe its structured in a way that works better in the novels but in movie format, devoting most of the screen time to villains the audience just wants to kill defies convention.

If Zach Snyder ever directed a Japanese movie, it would look like Confessions. Lots of pretty images from a heightened reality, muted colours and lots and lots of slow motion with a music video set piece feel. It is a movie that is beautiful to look at and uses a variety of cinematic techniques that you rarely see in Jmovies. There is one scene in the climax of the film that involves time going backwards which is nice to look at but does absolutely fucking nothing for the emotional story.

Confessions is not a disaster but the first 30 minutes is so epic while the next hour and 15 minutes feel so hollow in comparison. Revenge flicks are suppose to be about emotions and desperation. Nothing wrong with twists but Confessions uses them too much as a crutch. One could look at the movie as more of a commentary on the fucked up kids of today but there's no purpose in it. I can't say don't watch the movie because the first 30 minutes is epic and the movie looks good but if you want a good revenge flick, you're better off watching Taiyo no Kizu or Park Chan Wook's revenge trilogy.

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