Film: Confessions (Kokuhaku / 告白) – Japanese with English subtitles
It is rarely I am paralyzed so much whilst watching a movie, and I guess, therefore that it was due to happen to me sometime soon.
And that ‘soon’ became now – or should I say ‘now’ became the day I went to the ICA in London and caught this little gem of a motion picture.
I’d not read much about this movie, as always with me. Its the way I prefer. I knew, however, that this was a story regarding a teacher &/or pupils – I mean, the majority of stills used to promote the film, in reviews & showtime listings included were variations on the one where a female teacher stands ominously in front of her class…little more was needed – and I also knew it was Japanese (although perhaps from stills and posters I could have guessed that). Lastly, I’d heard it was very, very good…not least from the ICA themselves.
From the moment the picture starts three main things occur which keep you glued. 1) The teacher is almost laying some ground rules to her class. 2) The music, as haunting and rolling as it is keeps you wanting to see & know more. 3) The reactions of the class and brief, incredibly shot flashbacks ensure that you’re not bored. At all.
This first scene goes on for a very, very long time and when it ends you wish maybe it hadn’t – but this is in no way to say that the rest of the movie suffers, it does not. A change of scene is necessary to tell the rest of this story. And this is no easy-to-take story. Graphic. Beautifully Bloody. Eery.
I was taken in. Of course, I wasn’t the only one. It kept you guessing…unless you’d read the book on which it was based – and even then I don’t know how true the narrative and order of the film was compared to the book.
Just when you thought you knew what had occurred in the past – which you almost thought you’d understood from that first long scene – things changed, perhaps only slightly but enough to impact later events & intrigue you more.
This is, in my eyes, a drama or a suspense movie. Some people may try to label it as a horror or, more feasibly a thriller. Its also a love story (or stories), an teenage angst movie and I suppose a poignant look at life & its expectations.
The characters were as mysterious and dark as you could imagine…and not even once – not even at the beginning – did you think these characters would be the sweet humans they had the potential of being. This is largely down to the music and directing style and tone.
The filming is slow-mo, arty and almost music-video worthy (the good kind!) and, as stated before this is what invokes your imagination.
To cap it all, a brilliantly used Radiohead song is featured heavily…but not over-heavily. However, as I would count the name of this song as a spoiler, I’ve instead noted it right at the foot of this page…it’s up to you. [My reasoning? A scene with visual and audio, if worked correctly can be beautiful in itself – I wouldn’t want to be the sole who spoils the effect the scene or shot could have in your heart, your mind, eyes & ears. To coin a cliche, sometimes ‘words can not express…’]
But whether a Radiohead fan or not, if you’re a ‘Filmhead’ you won’t want to miss this one.
My confessional endeth.
Find this trailer and other Minier [ok, that’s not a real word in the UK, but…] Movies here at: