Kokuhaku (Confessions ) – Review

Kokuhaku (Confessions) – Friday 4th March 2011 at the ICA, London

Synopsis

It’s the last day of term and teacher Yuko Moriguchi (Takako Matsu) explains to her inattentive, unruly class that today will be her last day at the school. She explains her reason for leaving is the death of her 4 year old daughter, who drowned in the schools swimming pool earlier in the year in an apparent tragic accident.
She goes on to explain that she has since learnt that it wasn’t an accident; that her child was murdered and the murder was committed by two of the pupils in the very class in which she now stands.

Due to their age Yuko knows that these pupils, referred to as Student A and Student B, cannot be appropriately prosecuted so she has taken their punishment into her own hands. This is Yuko’s confession.

The film then follows the ‘confessions’ of those involved. Student B, now reclusive, shut in at home with a mother who is unwilling to accept that her child could be responsible for such an act. Student A, now vilified at school but defiant, unrepentant and desperately seeking the attention of the mother that abandoned him, and the one student, with a dark secret of her own, that that supports him.

Through these confessions, secrets are revealed, the truth is uncovered and Yuko’s revenge comes to a conclusion

Summary

It’s taken me quite a while to write my summary. In fact, this is my fourth attempt having completely discarded the previous three. The main problem being that Confessions is such an amazing film that I found that I could write nothing but gushing praise and just kept filling the page with superlative after superlative.

Every facet of Confessions borders on perfect. It’s visually stunning, coming from the team that brought you the brilliant and brightly coloured ‘Kamikaze Girls’, here the colours are muted and almost cold and clinical in comparison but each shot is so perfect, you could almost hang a frame around it. A slow-motion scene in the rain early in the film and another scene I won’t spoil near the conclusion are fantastically realised and vividly brought to life and are accompanied by a spot-on soundtrack, featuring the likes of Radiohead and Boris

The acting is flawless on all fronts from the detached, damaged teacher Yuko (Takako Matsu) to her over eager replacement (Masaki Okada) but the real credit here must go to the students, particularly Student A who plays the role of the quiet sociopath, brooding in the corner of the classroom in such an effortless manor as to be genuinely scary

Of course of all this would be nothing but window dressing if the story did not deliver and fortunately it really does. Japanese cinema can at times be almost impenetrable for a newcomer but Confessions, possibly due to its origins of being based on a novel by Kanae Minato, adopts a more familiar story telling structure and this makes it much more accessible.

Yet another stunning release from Third Window Films, Confessions is no ordinary revenge thriller and was understandably Japans entry to this years Oscars and is now on a limited cinema release. I urge you to see this film while you can

In the coming weeks it can be seen in London at:
The Prince Charles Cinema – March 15th, 18th, 23rd and 24th
The ICA – March 16th and 17th

Score: 9/10 – It’s not often I would even consider using the word ‘Masterpiece’ but Confessions really does deserve it. Dark, subversive and utterly gripping from start to finish.

More details of cinema's currently showing Confessions can be found on the Third Window Events page:

Third Window Events

Confessions is out on DVD & Blu-Ray on April 25th

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    • Priest
    • December 28th, 2012

    Agree with your review 100%.

  1. May 6th, 2012

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