I've been a fan of Koreeda's work since Maborisi. His films have an incredible ability to bring a deeper layer of understanding to inherent contradictions to humanity without coming across as preachy or political - they make us ask ourselves why we exist, and what are the means to which we gauge our lives... through made-believe fantasies such as that in The Afterlife, the audience gets to see how memory is the actual currency to which our lives are measured by at the end of it all. And in Still Walking we see how the inability to let go of pain compels us to continue to remind those whom we want to blame for our painful past through rituals that are disguised as a celebration of life - all within the setting of an otherwise uneventful family gathering. Koreeda has the ability to turn the audience to focus not on the seemingly mundane or routine events taking place within the story, but the nuances to which characters in the story feel, react, deny, (and are confused by either each other's action, words, or their own memories of each other that either helped to move them forward toward a new path, or held them in prison so they're stuck in the past) - logic is rarely the path to which the audience follows in a Koreeda film to understand and appreciate the messages or questions we end up going away with, but almost always we leave the cinema asking ourselves, silently and quietly - are our own lives moving forward with or without meaning?
In The Third Murder, we see the Koreeda trade-mark touches visually and in the score, all of which continue to show us how the world is essentially a place without emotions - in spite of all the vibrant city lights and colors, life can go on as if it's just a habit we cannot let go of. The mystery to the murderer - Misumi, first makes us think this is a story about a criminal who should have never been set free, and in the end the audience is left to question whether it is right for him to be penalized for a crime he may not have committed.
Koreeda draws a parallel between the murderer (Misumi) and Shigemori, the lawyer protagonist, who begins as a character with more drive to win than he has time to integrate morals or ethics in his thinking. In the end of the movie, he is the only person in the story who suffers from having considered, yet failed while trying, to do the morally-right thing.
To bring light to how legal system is flawed, or to highlight how the system and its lawyers often don't have ability to actually do the right thing when evidence is based only on speculation - none of that are new ideas or elements in the movies. This is as familiar as the line, "when legends become fact, we print the legend."
If Koreeda's aim was to show us the flaws to the legal system, and how it forces upon us to bring closure to a case that is much more complex than the law can handle - the movie didn't work well to provoke or evoke - all of this has been done, and done better in the past by other movies. If Koreeda was trying to point out how much of a martyr the character Misumi is, and that of all the lawyers, victims, and conspirators, he's the only person in the story who had a clear purpose and meaning in life - to do the right thing by ending the wrong in spite of what the law allows - this was not convincing, and got lost within the overly complex layers of plot points and at best it hits the audience as a doubt or question on which character and what part of the story they should believe in.
This movie didn't work well as political commentary, nor does it make for slice-of-life story about how people find meaning in life - perhaps things got lost in translation and I'm not seeing the Japanese cultural nuances as it's meant to be appreciated. but that's never been a problem with Koreeda films.
Some critics have drawn comparisons and similarities to Kurosawa's Rashomon, I tend to not agree - Rashomon brings to light that truth can only be based on perception, and everyone can perceive differently and be affected by their selfish interests. The Third Murder only resembles Rashomon in how it show one character keep changing the alleged facts, when at the end of the movie it is quite clear to the audience two things: 1) Misumi enjoys being able to control the situation and the people involved, and 2) he knew how to manipulate the legal process so well that he changed the story and his role in the murder knowing how the law would interpret and adjust to deal with the case - all with the aim to end the case quickly by adding more weight to speculation that would lock him with the murder, when the real evidence was never considered (e.g. blood-stains on the girl's shoes).
For a Koreeda film, this was a disappointment by comparison to his previous work (My Little Sister was also). If we are to consider the first murder to be the loan shark Misumi killed out of righteousness, the second being Sakie's father, then the 3rd murder's victim would then be Misumi himself - sorry, this isn't the kind of contrived Usual Suspects of a message I would expect from a master filmmaker/story-teller like Koreeda.
The Third Murder
Drama / Mystery
The Third Murder
Drama / Mystery
Misumi has a criminal record dating back many years and is now under the spotlight again. It looks like an open and shut case, for Misumi has confessed to the new charge. Enter prominent lawyer Shigemori, who harbours other ideas, which could mean the difference between life and death.
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March 24, 2018 at 02:48 PM