Film: Villain (Akunin / 悪人)
Director: Lee Sang-il
Venue: ICA, London
Running time: 140 minutes.
Released & Distributed in the UK by Third Window Films – details here (and more at foot of review):
The film is based on Shuichi Yoshida’s crime noir novel of the same name.
I’m so glad I read minimal information about this. Now comes the tricky part… Relaying minimal information whilst explaining maximal details!
OK, there’s this girl (Hikari Mitsushima) who, in between being in the insurance industry spends her time eating with her girlfriends (the Americanised expression… I don’t mean she’s a lesbian), falling in lust with men and probably purchasing the best designer-wear around. This is not labelling her a bad girl but just one of many almost happy-go-lucky youngsters of this modern world.
Hikari’s character tells her friends that she’s off to meet a guy and proceeds to do so. What follows is a brilliantly executed, but brief meeting of more than one of her male… errr… acquaintances, shall we say. [Not wanting to give away too much, one of these guys is played by Satoshi Tsumabuki] Well, accidents will happen and storylines do need to unfold.
It’s fair to say that one of the guys is not best pleased, not only considering the circumstances but also because he’s made quite an effort to meet. There is a great use of sound at this point in the movie.
Missy follows her heart and heads off with a seemingly well-to-do male. Smiles are all round, almost. I would say that they head off into the sunset but it’s night time and therefore no sun to be seen.
A sleepy-ish town in the middle of nowhere and suddenly “there’s been a murder” – these are the words you’d probably here if this were somewhere in England and a North-of-England detective were involved. This murder though, may not have actually occurred in the sleepy town but definitely somewhere almost as sleepy and far away from life or cities.
Who has committed this nasty deed? Could it be one of the young male leads? Or could they both be responsible in some way? The answers to these and other questions will be answered if you go and see this film, or of course read the book… Something I’ve not had a chance to do yet.
We soon have obviously distraught parents of the victim. Understandably, they blame one another for this event and at times blame themselves. This said, they know that someone else is literally to blame, ultimately.
A dating site is referred to on more than one occasion in this movie. Our main suspect puts such a site to use and meets a girl… A girl who’s almost the opposite to Hikari’s character. We could call her niaive and homely but that’s not entirely true. More innocent could be more apt. What therefore follows is a play with us, the audience. We are played with in the form of us being presented with the situation of a sweet girl meeting a guy, whom we believe to be perhaps untrustworthy and capable of anything. A grinding juxtaposition giving us a “What Will Happen?” debacle. This is nothing new in films, but it’s done brilliantly throughout the remaining longer segment of the movie.
In fact, there is an almost beautiful – but uncertain – love story which is put in front of us. Will they, won’t they? Did he, didn’t he? (‘commit the murder’)… And, is this really ‘love’ or just an escape from the reality of situations surrounding the main male lead?… It’s definitely an escape for this new female ‘love-interest’, if only to take her away from the seemingly mundane life she has been living.
In between the latter relationship we are shown this male’s family and pieces of his past. We are also displayed the detective’s, the police’s and the media’s progress in solving the crime. There is, of course a flashback or two but done very well, compared with many others experienced in cinema.
Essentially, this film seems to move from a murder & whodunit [even if we have more than our fair share of suspicions] to an almost Romeo & Juliet situation… All the time, never really letting us know the male lead’s intention. They seem like they shouldn’t be together.
There is a real heart to this story, and not to mention such a great soundtrack, acting and sublime photography.
I suppose it’s the love story which ultimately stole my heart. Do I mean crimes of the heart? Well, it is titled “Villain”, so you decide.
Find this Trailer and other Minier [ok, that’s not a real word, but…] Movies here at:
Film Footnote – “Virally Vended”
As promised above, further details of the distributor of Villain are indeed below. However, before you rush to clickety-click-away I’d like to use this space to mention the recent mindless riots experienced here in the UK. Did you know that these riots caused hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages and loss to our favourite independent film distributors? These are, essentially… Arrow Films, Artifical Eye, The BFI, Crabtree Films, Cine-Asia, Dogwoof Films, Exposure Cinema, Eureka, Kaleidoscope Films, Left Films, Masters of Cinema, Metrodome Films, New Wave Films, Peccadillo Pictures, Revolver Entertainment, Showbox Home Entertainment, Terracotta, Third Window Films and Warp Films.
So, with the latter in mind it is even more important to spread the word virally about these unfortunate vendors. On that note I leave you with these links… all which will, in some way assist in keeping such films to be distributed here in the so-called land of milk & honey.
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Thanks for contacting me and thanks for the later emails. You’re doing a fabulous job! Best… J